Nations on the verge of famine and in need of emergency food
Boston — The following nations are considered by UN and private relief agencies as those with the greatest needs for emergency food aid. Mozambique has the world's most urgent need for famine relief, according to Paul Mitchell, an official at the UN World Food Program. There are currently 630,000 Mozambican refugees in Malawi, and he expects a monthly case load of 770,000 Mozambicans needing emergency food in 1989.
The Select Committee on Hunger of the US House of Representatives reports a food deficit in Mozambique of 914,000 metric tons. The US has pledged to provide 191,030 metric tons to meet the shortfall.
Afghanistan has seen its food production come to a virtual standstill after eight years of war. There are an estimated 3.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, 2.5 million in Iran, and 2 to 3 million displaced within Afghanistan itself. Most of them will need food relief.
Ethiopia, according to the Select Committee on Hunger, needs 1.3 million metric tons of food, of which the US has contributed 272,566 tons.
Angola is experiencing a food deficit of 257,000 metric tons, of which the US has pledged 12,000 tons to be delivered through UNICEF.
Sudan requires 194,000 metric tons of food aid, toward which the US has contributed $43,000.
Vietnam is a recent addition to the Select Committee's list of areas where there is evidence of an impending severe famine.
Seven million Vietnamese are facing food shortages, with 3 million on the brink of starvation in the northern part of the country.
Severe drought, six typhoons, and an insect infestation are expected to seriously damage about 80 percent of Vietnam's rice crop.
As a result, it is estimated that crops will fall below the 19-million-ton target level, which itself would have been inadequate to feed the current population of Vietnam, which is 63.5 million.
People in Vietnam are hoarding rice against inflation. Food production has dropped in the last three years, falling behind a population that is expanding by 2.4 percent annually. And on May 3, the Vietnamese government asked the United Nations for emergency food assistance, says the Select Committee.
WFP is planning a $9.1 million emergency operation to provide about 30,700 metric tons of food to 1.5 million drought victims in northern Vietnam.
Federal policies currently bar the US from giving any bilateral aid to Vietnam because of its 1979 Soviet-backed invasion of Cambodia.
Moreover, some US government sources question the severity of the situation there, saying that any hunger conditions are largely due to ``distribution problems.''
One US official indicated, however, that political concerns might be set aside if the famine reaches critical proportions, as it has in the cases of both Mozambique and Ethiopia, both of which are backed by the Soviets.