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Starvation Threatens Southern Africans - 2002-05-02


The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an appeal for $4 million to help people who are in danger of starvation in Southern Africa. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says two years of drought have caused a severe reduction in food production in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Red Cross spokesman Denis McClean says about 2.5 million people are affected by the food shortage, and those with HIV-AIDS are suffering most.

"Infection rates across southern Africa vary from 16 percent to 30 percent of the adult population, depending on whether you are looking at a rural or an urban area," Mr. McClean said. "Most tragically of all, of course, are the numbers of young children who have been left without parents because of this epidemic. In Malawi alone, there are 900,000 orphans estimated, and in Zambia, you are looking at 1.5 million, which is quite a staggering figure when you consider that the total population of the country is probably no more than 12 million or so."

Mr. McClean says the Red Cross will be providing bulk food distribution and supplementary feeding at communal kitchens in the three countries. The agency is also planning programs to encourage people to vary their diets. All three countries rely heavily on maize, a crop that has been devastated by the drought.

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