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Group Appeals for Aid to Angola

June 12, 2002

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LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ A leading aid group launched an urgent call for international help for Angola Tuesday, saying tens of thousands of Angolans could face starvation.

Medecins Sans Frontieres warned that malnutrition in the oil- and diamond-rich southwest African nation was the worst its staff had seen since a devastating 1998 famine in Sudan.

``The world is consciously allowing Angolans to die of hunger,″ said Dr. Morten Rostrup, president of MSF international, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

``If the Angolan authorities, the U.N. agencies, the international community and the donor countries don’t respond immediately to this crisis ... nearly half a million Angolans are threatened by starvation and diseases,″ Rostrup said.

At a press conference, the aid agency accused the Angolan government and the United Nations of responding to slowly to the problem.

Erick de Mul, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Angola, called the charge inaccurate and misleading, saying the world body had repeatedly drawn public attention to the plight of Angolans.

``MSF has missed the key point at this crucial juncture. Events have evolved very quickly and the government is still gearing up to deal with the situation, as is the international community, which has not yet fully responded to the funding requests made by U.N. agencies and NGOs,″ de Mul said.

But De Mul said the United Nations did not have at present sufficient resources ``to meet all of the needs. We are forced to target the most vulnerable and even then, we are not able to reach everyone in critical distress,″ he said.

The government, while not directly answering the accusation, blamed the humanitarian crisis on the ``failure of the international community″ to help Angola, news reports said.

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