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WFP Launches Aid Program for Djibouti

The United Nations World Food Program has launched an appeal for $2.5 million to feed 30,000 people in Djibouti over the next six months. The funds will also provide supplementary feeding for thousands of malnourished children under the age of five.

The Rome-based World Food Program is very concerned about serious food shortages in Djibouti and says tens of thousands people are threatened. The U.N. agency launched an appeal Friday for funds because without further assistance these people will go hungry.

The crisis is affecting six rural areas in the country.

WFP spokesperson Laura Mello, who is based in Nairobi, says the drought has seriously affected the livestock in the country. She says this is a very serious situation for the population of Djibouti, which depends on the livestock for their food and for their trade.

Ms. Mello says a lot of the livestock have died because of the water scarcity and people simply do not have enough to eat.

"Djibouti is normally a rather impoverished country and drought prone but this year the situation is particularly bad because there's been three consecutive years of very poor rains and as a result we have identified that about 30,000 are clearly in a situation whereby they are not able to feed themselves," she explained.

Ms. Mello says WFP estimates that almost 6,000 children under the age of five need supplementary feeding because of malnutrition. She says children are particularly affected by the food shortages and the impact of the drought because their diet is almost entirely based on milk.

"For the children's diet Djiboutians really rely on the milk," she said. "So children drink a lot of milk. Now if people have lost their livestock, their cattle, their goats, they don't have the milk that they produce. Even those animals that have actually survived, they are very weak and again they are not producing enough milk."

The World Food Program says its resources are insufficient to deal with the situation in Djibouti. The agency is hoping the international community will come forward with cash contributions so that purchases can be made quickly and low food stocks replenished so that distribution can begin.