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21 African countries face 'food emergencies,' millions on brink of starvation, UN reports

21 African countries face 'food emergencies,' millions on brink of starvation, UN reports

Warning that 21 African countries are facing “food emergencies,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today urged donor nations to commit critically needed aid and financial support to the continent to avert a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

The call came in a report released today in conjunction with the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, where delegates are meeting in an effort to revitalize the fight against global poverty while preserving the environment.

The report, which says that the number of people in need of emergency food aid in southern Africa alone is close to 13 million, warned that only 24 per cent of the $507.3 million needed to provide food assistance to more than 10 million people until the next main harvest in April 2003 has been pledged.

"The food situation in southern Africa is of grave concern," the report says. "A prolonged dry spell during the 2001-02 growing season, and excessive precipitation in parts, devastated crops in large growing areas."

The report forecasts that sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements were expected to remain high, reflecting the sharp falls in cereal production in southern Africa. Meanwhile, reduced production in eastern Africa and increased population displacements in other parts of the continent due to conflict could also be expected to drive up import requirements.

FAO said it estimated that 1.81 million tons of total food aid would be required for the region for the current marketing year. Food aid pledges for 2001-02, including those carried over from the previous year, amount to 1.22 million tons, of which 1.06 million tons have been delivered.