UN agencies repeat earlier $5.8 million aid appeal for Namibia after being ignored

UN agencies repeat earlier $5.8 million aid appeal for Namibia after being ignored

After being virtually ignored in the two months since issuing a $5.8 million emergency appeal for Namibia, two United Nations aid agencies today drew attention again to the growing humanitarian crisis there, citing the food crisis affecting a third of the country, the rapidly rising rate of HIV infections and overall crushing poverty.

In March the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched the appeal to help more than 600,000 orphans, vulnerable children and women who were suffering from the combined effects of erratic weather, severe poverty and the worsening HIV/AIDS epidemic.

At a press briefing today in Geneva, WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume called the situation in Namibia “one of the world’s forgotten crises,” adding that the agency had asked for $5.2 million to fund its emergency operations for the next six months, but had received “absolutely nothing.”

UNICEF spokesman Damien Personnaz said the agency likewise “had received nothing” for its $616,000 request to fund its emergency operation to provide assistance to some 500,000 people in the country until September.

Namibia, with a population of 1.8 million, had sharp income variations, deep poverty and perennial food deficits that were now compounded by three years of erratic weather in the northern part of the country and HIV/AIDS, Ms. Berthiaume said.

According to the Government, she added, more than 640,000 people – one-third of the population – were in need of food aid. With its limited resources, the Namibian Government planned to give food assistance to some 540,000 people while WFP would provide 8,000 tons of food to an additional 111,000 rural children and their families in the six worst affected northern districts.

Mr. Personnaz noted that in recent years, HIV/AIDS had spread across Namibia with extraordinary speed, soaring to its current level of 22 percent – the seventh highest rate in the world – from just four percent in 1992. Increased adult mortality had led to a steep rise in the number of orphans, with latest estimates showing that at least 120,000 children have been orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The ongoing floods had further exacerbated the present crisis, he added. It was not right that a country that made such limited requests for help should receive no attention and no aid from the international community.