U.N. food agency needs US$63 million (Ђ52 million) to feed 10 million people

The U.N. food agency needs US$63 million (Ђ52 million) to feed some 10 million people in southern Africa, where AIDS and drought have exacerbated the annual lean season, a U.N. envoy said Thursday. "This is the place in the world where the issues are the most intense and the most people are at risk," James T. Morris, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for humanitarian needs in Southern Africa and the head of the World Food Program, told reporters.

"It will require a sustained, major long-term commitment to address the complex of issues that are out there," said Morris, who is on a five-day tour assessing conditions the region. Morris also added a seventh country to those in need, saying WFP wanted to start feeding 110,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in Namibia.

Previously, the U.N. had listed Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland as countries in need of help through the next harvest in June. Most of the needy are in Zimbabwe, where WFP has targeted 4 million, and Malawi, with 3 million.

The months before harvest are often hungry ones in southern Africa, but conditions this year are worse than usual because of a drought and because of the frailty of the region's many AIDS sufferers, reports the AP. I.L.

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