MSF urges food aid to Chad be sped up

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Medecins Sans Frontieres appealed Monday for the international community to speed up food aid to Chad, which it says is in the throes of one of its worst food crises in recent years.

"We are extremely worried by the number of children suffering from acute severe malnutrition that our teams are seeing," said the aid group's medical coordinator for Chad, Benoit Kayembe, in a statement.

A recent MSF (Doctors Without Borders) survey of the southwestern region of Hadjer Lamis found that some five percent of children under age five were so severely malnourished they were at risk of dying.

"The rise in malnutrition is an alarm signal because we are only at the beginning of the 'hunger season,'" warned MSF as the next harvest is not due until October.

The food crisis is the result of drought, poor harvests, a rise in prices for basic foodstuffs, the early exhaustion of food stocks and a lack of access to health care services, said the group.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned last month that the food situation is of grave concern in several parts of the Sahel, estimating that more than 10 million people are at risk of hunger, with two million facing famine in Chad.

© 2010 AFP

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