Quick action can help to avoid famine in southern Africa, UN relief official says

Quick action can help to avoid famine in southern Africa, UN relief official says

Following a trip to southern Africa, a top United Nations humanitarian official has reported that famine could be averted in the region, but warned that the window of opportunity was closing quickly.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima said he would brief donors about the crisis on 10 July in Geneva, and then launch the Regional Appeal, which includes five national appeals for Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, at the humanitarian segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York on 18 July.

According to a UN Spokesman, Mr. Oshima witnessed the devastating effects that HIV/AIDS - a dimension missing from previous food shortages - has had in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.

The epidemic has made those countries more vulnerable and weakened their abilities to cope, said Mr. Oshima, who met with senior government officials, UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the region.