Mongolia

Red Cross seeks more aid for ravaged Mongolia

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ULAN BATOR, March 30 (Reuters) - The International Red Cross said on Thursday it had launched a new emergency appeal to help tens of thousands of Mongolian people facing severe food shortages after the country's worst winter in 30 years.

"The deteriorating situation and the increasing numbers of people affected by the ongoing disaster make it essential to expand the scope of the present operation and dispatch relief to beneficiaries as rapidly as possible," the Red Cross said in a statement.

The appeal is seeking 4.062 million swiss francs ($2.43 million) in cash and services for food aid for 35,000 people over a 12-month period, Mongolian Red Cross officials said.

Mongolia appealed for international aid last month after blizzards buried pastures that feed the livestock on which one third of the vast land-locked nation's 2.4 million people depend.

The heavy snows followed the worst drought in 60 years last summer which cut the hay crop used to supplement winter fodder. More than 1.8 million head of livestock have starved to death.

"The massive loss of livestock, which forms an essential means of survival for the herders, has been catastrophic," the Red Cross statement said. "Funding is urgently needed."

The new Red Cross appeal follows a previous plea issued in February which said 238,000 people were short of food, of whom 30,000 were in dire need.

The emergency aid would target the most vulnerable of more than 395,000 people affected by food shortages in the immediate term, and by loss of their livelihood in the longer term, Red Cross officials said.

The United Nations has said more then 500,000 people have been directly affected and many areas would be hit by hunger for the next 12 months.

The Mongolian Red Cross has already distributed emergency food aid to 19,100 people in the worst-hit areas, but 11,000 others needed food aid by the end of April, the statement said.

The Red Cross said it would distribute wheat flour, rice and millet calculated to provide 1,230 calories per person per day for the next 12 months, it said.

Mongolia's State Emergency Commission has said seven people have died as a result of the harsh winter conditions.

Three herders froze to death trying to save their animals, while four others died after failing to get emergency medical treatment.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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