Mauritania

Red Cross Red Crescent responds to worsening food crisis in Mauritania

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Geneva, 13 February 2003 - The Red Cross Red Crescent today launched an initial appeal for one million Swiss francs in response to the worsening food situation in Mauritania where at least 410,000 people require emergency food aid.
The Mauritanian Red Crescent will implement the operation and focus primarily on children under five years old, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant and nursing women. Community feeding centres will be established to ensure particularly vulnerable people are reached.

This operation will target 18,000 people over three months in the hard-hit regions of Adrar, Trarza and Inchiri. It will complement the on-going aid programmes, jointly implemented by the Mauritanian Red Crescent with the French and Italian Red Cross Societies. The French Red Cross is stepping up its assistance in the south-east of the country with the planned distribution of 3,700 tonnes of food, in partnership with the Red Crescent.

"In some parts of the country severe malnutrition rates among children are running as high as 15 per cent. This crisis will only deepen if we do not have a rapid and effective intervention now. We need to reach inaccessible locations and we have to support this food intervention with nutritional and hygiene education," said the Mauritanian Red Crescent President, Ahmed Ould Aida.

For further information, or to set up interviews (ISDN line available in Geneva), please contact:

Denis McClean, Head, Media Service
Tel: + 41 22 730 44 28 / + 41 79 217 33 57

Marie-Françoise Borel, Information Officer
Tel: + 41 22 730 43 46 / + 41 79 217 33 45

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Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81