UN agencies call for emergency
food aid for Laos

Two UN aid agencies are calling for emergency food assistance for more than 111,000 people in Laos facing a shortage of their staple crop, rice.

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme said Tuesday that residents of central and southern Laos require immediate support from outside to tide them over until the main wet season rice harvest in October 2011.

The agencies said in a statement that the shortage stems from typhoon Ketsana in 2009, a 2010 drought and subsequent localized flash floods.

It added that a WFP analysis showed that "only one-third of the rural population ... have enough food to eat throughout the year, and a substantial proportion of rural households continue to experience chronic or short-term food insecurity."

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