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As peace in Angola paves way for aid access, UN finds severe hunger in new areas

As peace in Angola paves way for aid access, UN finds severe hunger in new areas

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that it was feeding thousands of severely malnourished Angolans whose plight surfaced only after an accord between the Government and rebel group UNITA paved the way for humanitarian agencies to gain greater access to remote parts of the country.

"We are finding people suffering extreme hunger and malnutrition in the interior of the country," said Ronald Sibanda, WFP Country Director for Angola. "WFP is already making arrangements to start feeding programmes in new areas."

Last week, the agency trucked food aid along 130 kilometres of precarious roads from Huambo to the remote village of Bunjei, where it said a "frantic" crowd of more than 10,000 people greeted the convoy. That was first aid to the area's people, who for the past four years have been avoiding fighting by hiding in the countryside, many dying of hunger-related diseases.

While welcoming its expanded ability to provide emergency assistance to thousands of needy internally displaced people, WFP warned that stocks in Angola are reaching "dangerously low" levels.

"We have no choice but to reduce rations for some groups of people to make sure we can feed others who are more desperate," said Mr. Sibanda. "It is absolutely vital that new donations are made urgently."

WFP, which needs $52 million for the next six months, warned that with the present stock levels, essential food commodities would start to run out in June and July, and by September, there will be no food available.