International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service, Refugees International and the U.S. Committee for Refugees said they are concerned that donors will fail to provide funding for hungry Africans because of the need posed by a potential war in Iraq.
Large areas of southern Africa and the Horn of Africa are in the grips of drought, and the four aid agencies said refugees are among those who are most vulnerable to what they described as "life-threatening food shortages.''
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme recently launched an emergency appeal for 84 million dollars to feed refugees in Africa over the next six months. In the meantime, rations in some refugee camps in Africa have been cut to half the recommended daily minimum for survival.
"It is imperative that refugee food needs not be sidelined, diverted or ignored,'' said the four agencies in a joint statement released Monday.
"A failure to fully respond to this urgent U.N. appeal in a timely fashion will directly result in massive malnutrition and severely increased mortality,'' the statement said.
Most of Africa's three million refugees live in camps where they are unable to work or grow food and are therefore dependent on aid handouts.
A total of 38 million people are in need of food aid this year across Africa, according to U.N. estimates.
dpa mc sc AP-NY-03-10-03 0852EST
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