The United Nations is making an emergency appeal for $611 million for southern Africa, which has been suffering from a prolonged food crisis. UN officials say it was created by both man-made and natural causes, including political instability, drought, illness and HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF, the UN children?s fund, has joined in the appeal, saying over half of the thirteen million people at risk of dying are children. Many are under age five, making them extremely vulnerable to malnutrition and disease.

UNICEF says, ?This is much more than a health crisis. It?s also a water crisis, health crisis and an education crisis.? Out of the more than $600 million, UNICEF is asking for $27 million for therapeutic feeding centers, measles immunization and vitamin A campaigns to protect children?s health.

UNICEF would also use some of the money to dig new wells and provide water purification equipment. UNICEF spokesman Alfred Ironside talked with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the southern Africa crisis.