S. African aid project falters

A drought relief program helping thousands of blacks in South Africa avoid starvation - and encouraging multiracial cooperation in the process - is in deep financial trouble.

Operation Hunger has stopped buying food and will be out of business by mid-November if donations on the order of at least $800,000 are not raised, say officials.

The operation is at present feeding some 600,000 rural blacks in South Africa. It has urgent appeals for food from another 220,000 blacks.

Three years of drought in South Africa coupled with recession have pushed many rural blacks to the brink. Although the rainy season has begun with encouraging precipitation in many parts of the country, certain rural black areas are still in crisis.

''The deterioration is fast and furious'' in the black communities of South Africa's Transvaal Province, for instance, says Operation Hunger's national manager, Ina Perlman.

Mrs. Perlman says rural blacks are in a desperate situation due to the government's policy of apartheid. The policy of forcing as many blacks as possible to live in the rural ''homelands'' has caused rural areas to deteriorate, making subsistence agriculture extremely difficult. At the same time the drought is forcing white farmers to cut back on black labor.

Operation Hunger accepts no South African government money and has launched a new campaign to bring in more contributions from individuals and companies here.

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