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Disaster Looms Millions Southern African Children

Funds Needed To Avert Disaster For Millions Southern African Children - UN

Millions of children across Southern Africa are at risk because of a lack of international funds and support, eight United Nations agencies warned today as they launched a mid-term review of their financial appeal for the region.

The agencies said the UN has so far received $324 million, or just over half of the $642 million it requested from international donors when it launched a bid last July to fund this year's relief efforts in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Only $24 million of the money received is for non-food activities - just 14 per cent of what the UN estimates is necessary to meet urgent needs in these countries.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) said the triple threat of severe drought, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and weakened government capacity had left millions of people across the region extremely vulnerable.

The UN's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs in Southern Africa, James T. Morris, said 3 million children in the region have already lost one or both parents. "We cannot stand idly by and see them lose their futures too," he said.

He warned that crucial projects across the region would have to be scaled back unless international donors provide additional funds. "After millions of children have been saved from starvation, it is tragic that their lives now remain at risk from a lack of clean water, adequate sanitation and proper health care," added Mr. Morris, who also heads the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

OCHA said orphaned children are particularly in jeopardy, with many lacking access to food and health care while being forced to drop out of school.

The eight agencies involved are: OCHA, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), UN Development Programme (UNDP), Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organization (WHO) and WFP.

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