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Urgent Food And Health Aid Needed For Namibia

UN Agencies Appeal For Urgent Food And Health Aid For Namibia

With erratic weather, severe poverty and the worsening HIV/AIDS epidemic compounding an acute crisis in Namibia, two United Nations agencies today launched emergency appeals totalling $5.8 million to help more than 600,000 orphans, vulnerable children and women – a third of the population of the southern African country.

“Tens of thousands of children and their families will face severe difficulties in the coming months unless international assistance is forthcoming," UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director Mike Sackett said in an appeal for $5.2 million to fund its emergency operation for the next six months.

"A swift response is needed to contain the crisis and give the government time to build up its capacity during this acute emergency,” he added. WFP will provide 8,000 tons of food to 111,000 rural children and their families in the six northern districts that have suffered most from three years of erratic weather. With its limited resources, the Namibian Government plans to give food assistance to some 530,000 people.

For its part, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is seeking $616,000 to fund its emergency operation for the coming half year to help some 500,000 people by providing insecticide treated bed nets to prevent malaria, expanding immunization campaigns, undertaking Vitamin A distribution and improving nutritional surveillance.

“The lingering threat of malnutrition means that this appeal must go beyond food aid," UNICEF Regional Director Per Engebak said, adding that the current “crisis exceeds the Government's capacity to respond."

In recent years, HIV/AIDS has spread across Namibia with extraordinary speed, soaring from just 4 per cent in 1992 to its current level of 22 per cent - the seventh highest rate in the world. Increased adult mortality has led to a steep rise in the number of orphans. Latest estimates indicate that at least 120,000 children have been orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Namibia.

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