With the worst winter snow and frost in 30 years and freezing temperatures of below - 45=B0C leading to a catastrophic loss of livestock in Mongolia, the International Federation has launched an appeal for 815,200 Swiss francs. The money will help nearly 30,000 herdsmen and their families. More than 500,000 cattle, sheep and goats have died in seven of the country's 21 provinces so far with another 2,000 animals dying each day. The head of the Mongolian Red Cross Society's (MRCS) disaster relief department, Batgerel Gombojav, says another 500,000 animals are expected to die by spring. "We estimate that in the next few weeks at least 2,000 households will lose all of their animals, their entire livelihoods. We need to get help to them as soon as possible." With no dairy products to eat, an important part of their diet, malnutrition is just around the corner.
The dead animals mean not only no food, but also no heat for the families to keep warm. Animal dung is traditionally used for fuel and many families are now having to burn their furniture for warmth. After launching a national appeal, the Mongolian Red Cross is helping 800 families in two provinces with candles, matches, flour and warm clothing. The MRCS has also mobilized an extensive network of grass-root volunteers to carry out the emergency relief programme. International Federation delegates from Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have also been dispatched to the region to assess the situation. With the situation set to worsen still with winter blizzards expected, immediate needs are for more food supplies and winter boots to help herdsmen who've lost their horses, search for livestock on foot.
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