Afghanistan, U.N. appeal for drought aid
Kabul, October 20, 2006 (AP) - The Afghan government and the United Nations appealed Sunday for $43 million in aid to respond to a severe drought and help tens of thousands of families displaced by fighting in the country's south.
A similar appeal for $76.4 million in June resulted in donations of just over half that amount, a U.N. statement said.
"It is estimated that due to the drought conditions, 1.9 million people will need food assistance, 200,000 more than estimated in July," the U.N. said.
Afghanistan is facing a shortfall in this year's wheat harvest because of the prolonged drought, particularly in the north and northwest of the country.
Agriculture accounts for 52 percent of the impoverished nation's gross domestic product, and wheat comprises 80 percent of cereal production.
"We urge donor countries to step forward with pledges that will enable us to provide vital food and other essential living items as we approach the winter months," said Ameerah Haq, deputy head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
The appeal includes planned assistance for an estimated 20,000 families displaced by fighting in the southern provinces of Uruzgan, Helmand and Kandahar, the U.N. said.