UN gives emergency food aid to drought-hit Nepal | india | Hindustan Times
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UN gives emergency food aid to drought-hit Nepal

india Updated: Jun 21, 2006 12:48 IST

The United Nations World Food Programme has started distributing emergency food to more than 225,000 people in central and western Nepal hit by the worst drought in decades.

The agency plans to distribute 800 tonnes of foodgrains in 10 of the impoverished country's 75 districts over the next three months, an official said late on Tuesday.

"Food insecurity is already a fact of life in these districts, and we are very concerned that effects of the drought will exacerbate what is already a precarious situation," Richard Ragan, country director, said in a statement.

A bloody Maoist insurgency aimed at toppling the monarchy has raged in the Himalayan region since 1996.

Last week, the rebels signed a landmark deal with the government, which agreed to take them into an interim cabinet after King Gyanendra ended his absolute rule, bowing to relentless street protests.

Nepal is one of the world's 10 poorest countries and receives more than 60 per cent of the cost of its economic development in international aid, including from the UN.

Many of Nepal's villages are located in remote mountains and foodgrains would have to be flown in, the WFP's Ragan said.

"Families in these areas are struggling to find enough food to feed their children by selling household goods and livestock," the official said.

More than 13,000 people have died in the Maoist conflict that has wrecked Nepal's economy, which is largely dependent on tourism.