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Hunger, Water Scarcity Displaces Thousands of Afghans


KABUL - Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes due to food and water shortages in northern Afghanistan, the government said on Wednesday.0604 10

Many parts of Afghanistan did not receive enough rain and snow this year, increasing concern the country may face drought again, amid global soaring food prices that have already hit the mountainous and war-torn country.

The exodus of nearly 2,000 families this week from Chemtal district of Balkh province comes despite the government sending 37 tons of food and some water for distribution for the people under a food for work project days earlier, the government said.

"The reasons for the displacement of these families are lack of drinking water and food commodities," it said in a statement.

An average Afghan family usually has at least four members.

The families have ended up in Sholgara district which also lies in Balkh, regarded as part of Afghanistan's food basket. The government was looking into how to help them there, the statement added.

Water and food shortages have forced several families to eat grass, resulting in some deaths in recent weeks in different parts of northern Afghanistan, according to press reports.

In some areas water-fed crops have died due to lack of rain and in some others an unprecedented infestation of locusts has destroyed cultivated fields in recent weeks, according to officials.

Faced by violence in the past two years, the bloodiest since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, and frustration from many Afghans about perceived lack of development, the government has been seeking ways to import flour or wheat to curb rising food prices.

© 2008 Reuters

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