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Guatemala: 6,000 in Danger of Starving - 2002-03-20


The United Nations' World Food Program has announced Tuesday that 6,000 Guatemalan children are in danger of dying of starvation as famine continues to affect the region.

The World Food Program regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean,Francisco Roque, said many children could die in coming months unless they received urgent food aid.

Already 126 children are estimated to have died from malnutrition.

Guatemala's food crisis began last year when drought stuck the region destroying many families' crops. Adding to the problem is the drop in coffee prices which has resulted in lay offs on many of Guatemala's coffee farms.

Guatemalan program officials say, however, that the problem has only gotten worse since last year. The situation for those already affected is worsening and the famine is spreading to previously unaffected regions of the country.

The recent events have aggravated Guatemala's already dismal nutrition record. Nearly half of all children under five years of age in this Central American nation suffer from malnutrition. This is considered to be the highest malnutrition record in Latin America.

Program officials say the six-month emergency program will attend a total of 155,000 people in various levels of malnutrition.

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