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Drought expected to return to Afghanistan, UN agency warns

Drought expected to return to Afghanistan, UN agency warns

The United Nations food agency today warned that southern Afghanistan is poised to face more drought, which has already ravaged the war-shattered nation.

"The southern region seems to be heading to another year of drought with major rivers almost dry and precipitation so far below average," UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters in Kabul, citing reports from the World Food Programme (WFP). "Many farmers are reluctant to plant the meagre quantities of seed they have," he added.

In February alone, WFP has provided about 9,000 tons of food aid to over 227,000 people in six southern provinces. While that amount should sustain families in the region for some three months, the spokesman warned that "these people have to provide for many other needs and the majority of them are set to be dependent on WFP food aid even after the harvest in July."

Lack of food in the drought-hit Taiwara region of Afghanistan is being blamed for the outbreak of an unknown deadly disease there, according to the World Health Organization, which today dispatched experts and emergency medical supplies to the area to investigate the illness and treat those affected.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported today that Afghans continue to pour across Pakistan's border on their way home. On Monday alone, over 5,300 Afghan refugees returned, bringing the total since the start of the UNHCR-assisted return programme on 1 March to some 18,500.

Defused Mk 84 2000lb GPLD

Over the weekend, the UN Mine Action Programme began defusing four 2,000-pound bombs dropped by coalition aircraft outside of Kabul. The bombs' fuses were set so that they would explode after penetrating some distance in the ground in order to maximize the damage to the buried storage tanks while minimizing the chances of casualties and damage to nearby houses.