UN food agency struggling to assist increasing number of Angolans in need

UN food agency struggling to assist increasing number of Angolans in need

The number of Angolans in urgent need of food aid has increased to 1.8 million, putting additional pressure on the already limited resources available to assist people in the war-ravaged nation, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP has only received 26 per cent of the $233 million required to keep its operations in the country running until the end of next year. The poor funding situation will reach a critical point in January when the agency runs out of cereals.

To avoid a major hunger disaster and create a buffer stock, WFP has started to pre-position food in strategic locations around the country. But the agency is warning that a solution to the access problem is essential, especially as the number of people in need is expected to continue increasing, reaching 1.9 million by the end of the year.

"We have 1.8 million people who have little to eat, and whose survival depends on food aid," WFP's Country Director for Angola, Francisco Roque Castro, said in Luanda on Tuesday. "If donors do not come forward with funds, we could face a humanitarian tragedy."

WFP is being forced to expand its operations to care for swelling numbers of needy populations in previously inaccessible areas, as well as former rebel soldiers and their families, displaced people returning to their areas of origin, and refugees returning from neighbouring countries.

Extremely poor transport infrastructure is severely hampering access even in areas where landmines are not a threat. Broken bridges and poor roads are preventing WFP from reaching populations in need. Many airstrips and roads which could be used for humanitarian deliveries are not cleared of landmines.

Despite these logistical difficulties, WFP has managed to provide food assistance to all but one of the 42 reception areas for former rebel soldiers and their families. In the past few months, the agency has also reached 60 locations that were previously inaccessible, adding 426,000 people to those in need of assistance.