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Southern Africa Food Crisis - 2002-07-01

The UN World Food Program has launched, what is calls, a "massive appeal" to provide emergency relief food to six countries in southern Africa where millions of people are threatened with starvation over the next nine months. The countries in need are Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

The agency is asking for $507 million to buy almost one million tons of food. It says that's enough to feed over 10 million people until the next main harvest in March 2003. The WFP, which has been providing emergency food aid in the region since last year, says it has only one-quarter of the food it needs for the next three months.

Judith Lewis is the WFP’s regional director for east and southern Africa. From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the food crisis. She says the situation has not yet reached famine stage but millions are at risk of starvation. She says the situation has greatly worsened over the past month, resulting in this latest appeal.