July 10, 2008

400 Mln U.S. Dollars Food Appeal Launched for Vulnerable Afghans

400 mln U.S. dollars food appeal launched for vulnerable Afghans

KABUL, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Afghan government and United Nations on Wednesday launched a joint appeal for over 404 million U.S. dollars to feed the most vulnerable people who are in desperate need of food aid as a result of the worldwide rise in food prices, poor harvests and drought, said a UN statement.

The appeal which will run for 12 months from July 2008 to July 2009 aims to ensure the food security of 450,000 urban and rural households that have been hit hardest by worldwide food price hikes, the statement said.

A significant part of the money received will be for the next agricultural cycle to help increase productivity and avoid a prolonged relief situation, it said.

Further 300,000 farming families will receive vital livestock and agricultural assistance, while 550,000 women and children under five years old will receive help to protect them from malnutrition, it said.

Funds from the appeal will also be used to provide safe drinking water, promote good hygiene in drought-affected communities and improve disease control where it is weak.

Drought, conflict and a poor harvest have compounded the problems for Afghanistan's people and we need the generous support of the international community to prevent further suffering," said Mohammad Karim Khalili, Vice President of Afghanistan.

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bo Asplund also call for international community and donors to step forward with commitments of support that will enable UN to provide essential food, water and health services to vulnerable groups over the next 12 months.

Afghanistan's wheat harvest, according to the UN statement, is expected to be 36 percent lower than in 2007 when it was able to produce over 90 percent of its own food.

Moreover, the harvest for 2008 is forecast to be around two- thirds of the domestic requirements, while around 2 million tonnes of grain will have to be imported.

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