MAPUTO, Mozambique — The government appealed Monday for emergency aid to feed nearly 4 million people who are facing famine in this southern African nation.
Speaking at a meeting in Maputo of Mozambique's Natural Disasters Office, the minister of cooperation, Jacinto Veloso, said that hunger is now affecting almost a third of the country's population. He called on "all countries and international organizations to help us in this particularly difficult moment."
The director of the Natural Disasters Office, Amos Mahanjane, said that after two years of improvements, the food situation has deteriorated dramatically in the last four months.
The latest figures compiled by the office show that 3.9 million people are now at risk, compared to just 1.8 million in March.
Veloso said the latest estimate was the highest since January, 1984, when 100,000 people died of hunger during a yearlong famine.
Veloso blamed the rebel Mozambican National Resistance for disrupting agriculture and forcing villagers to flee their homes.
The Marxist government has accused South Africa, and more recently Malawi, of aiding the rebels. But South Africa, which signed a nonaggression pact with Mozambique in March, 1984, has consistently denied aiding the rebels since then. Malawi also said it is not aiding the rebels.