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Droughts are plaguing several countries in the Middle East and South Asia. The hardest hit are India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The worst drought in a century in India has affected 130 million people, nearly 15 percent of its entire population. But the situation is more critical in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where millions of people are at risk but fewer resources are available.
The United Nation Co-ordinator for Afghanistan issued a warning on May 2 asking for US $1.8 million in aid for immediate relief. About 2.5 million people, or 10 per cent of the population, risk starvation due to the worst drought since 1971. The situation is especially critical in Afghanistan because of the long legacy of conflict, which has left the country crippled and much of the population destitute.
In Pakistan, government officials estimate that nearly 3 million people - mostly villagers - risk starvation. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the southern Thar desert. The drought has devastated crops and livestock in the desert, home to 1 million people, sparking fears of a massive humanitarian crisis. The government has budgeted US $40 million for drought relief.
UNICEF has been active preparing for the growing crisis in South Asia and is providing relief where requested. It is conducting water surveys, co-ordinating relief plans with other humanitarian organizations and distributing food and medicine in certain areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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Assistance Afghanistan (UNDP)
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