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World Food Program: Funds for Afghanistan Running Out - 2002-05-28

The World Food Program has said it is running out of money and is being forced to suspend some of its operations in Afghanistan.

WFP spokeswoman Christiane Bertiaume said a lack of funds is threatening the agency's ability to provide food aid to millions of Afghans who depend on outside help for survival.

"We are going to be short 50,000 tons of food just for next month. That means we have to stop or reduce some of our programs like food for refugees coming back home, for displaced people, for people suffering from the drought, also for school feeding. The situation is bad because it is the worst time of the year for those people. There is no harvest until July, so until July it is going to be very difficult for these people," she said.

She said that after the July harvest, the agency hopes that food aid could be reduced, with WFP feeding six million rather than nine million people.

Ms. Bertiaume has said WFP is particularly concerned that its school feeding program to provide more than one million children with a meal a day is threatened. "If parents do not send their kids to school it is because they do not have the money. They need their kids to work to bring money back home so that they can buy food. So if they are sure, if they are guaranteed that their children are going to have a meal in school, they will send their kids to school," she said.

Conflict and three years of drought have endangered Afghanistan's food supplies. More Afghan refugees than expected have returned home from neighboring countries, also drawing down available food reserves.