Facing ‘acute shortage’, UN agencies appeal for urgent aid to feed Angolans

6 May 2004

With nearly 1.4 million Angolans threatened by an “acute funding shortage” in emergency food operations, United Nations agencies today appealed to the international community to urgently make up a shortfall of more than $100 million.

"The bottom line is that without food and resources, we simply can't do our job, which is to ensure people living in some of the worst imaginable conditions are given a helping hand," UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director James Morris said. He is also Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Southern Africa.

WFP has already been forced to reduce rations by half and will have to cut them further by June unless cash pledges are immediately forthcoming.

The agency has received only $35 million of a $253 million appeal aimed at resettling internally displaced Angolans and refugees. It estimates it will need at least $136 million to feed the nearly 1.4 million who have already returned to their homes or are scheduled to be repatriated from Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year.

Under a joint programme with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), WFP is planning to assist up to 40,000 Angolans in Zambia, 19,000 in the DRC and 10,000 in Namibia to return home.

Due to seasonal rains, repatriations can only take place between June and November. “Thus it is even more crucial that the international community come forth now with funding to take advantage of this limited window of opportunity,” WFP said.

“It’s tragic that these people will have to suffer even longer simply because WFP can’t give them crucial food supplies to help them start rebuilding their lives,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said. “The food WFP provides ensures refugees get the best possible start on their difficult road to re-establishing themselves in their communities.”