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UN unit reports dire need for food and aid in Africa

Twenty-four African nations, weakened by drought, civil strife, poverty, and disease, cannot feed themselves and face starvation this year, a UN agency said Thursday. Despite a threefold increase in donor support since September, Africa still urgently needs at least 1.6 million tons of food and about $100 million in agricultural assistance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released here.

''The response is still far from commensurate with the minimum requirements'' of the 150 million people on the affected nations, such as war-torn Chad in central Africa and parched Swaziland to the south, the report said.

The FAO task force that prepared the report recommended immediate delivery of 700,000 tons of cereals to a number of countries in western, southern, and eastern Africa. Further assistance is required particularly by Mozambique, Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia, and several West African countries, the UN agency said.

African meteorologists expect Africa's chronic drought to continue.

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