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Poverty in Afghan Villages Shocks the Red Cross - 2002-02-08


An international humanitarian organization says it found a shocking level of poverty in villages and mountain valleys in western Afghanistan.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says the combined effects of war and drought have left many people in the region destitute. The federation says many villages in the region lack agricultural activity, and that many people are close to starvation. The organization says people are so poor that young girls are being offered for marriage in exchange for wheat flour.

The Red Cross recently sent a team to the western Afghan provinces of Herat and Faryab to assess the situation.

Red Cross official Wendy Darby -- part of the team that went to Afghanistan -- says children and adults were seen digging in the ground for food. She also says many of the children lacked shoes, and had visible sores and skin discolorations.

The federation has issued an appeal of 25-million dollars to aid Afghans. Ms. Darby says the money would help provide health services, clothing, tools, and seeds for the impoverished people.

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