Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- World Food Programme on Monday called for urgent contributions of food to avert malnutrition among refugees and drought victims in Rwanda.
The UN agency appealed for 6,200 tonnes of food worth US$3.
3 million to continue assisting more than 93,000 people until February 2004.
Severe food shortages are being experienced in south-east Rwanda's Bugesera region following two consecutive poor harvests.
Crop failures in January and June have left 45,000 people in dire need of food assistance.
The number of children seeking treatment at nutrition centres in the area has doubled since January.
Needy families have begun selling their belongings and consumed seeds they would otherwise use for farming.
Refugees in the country are also totally reliant on WFP food aid for survival.
Almost 32,000 people, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi live in camps in Kibuye (eastern Rwanda), Byumba (northern Rwanda) and Gikongoro (central Rwanda).
Living without access to land or labour opportunities since 1999, the only resource for these refugees is WFP-donated food.
Funds to assist these populations are, however, running out, forcing WFP to take drastic measures, including a reduction of food rations, which will soon be introduced if donor countries fail to respond to the appeal.
"If we don't receive more donations soon, we'll have to make some very hard choices," said David Stevenson, WFP Country Director for Rwanda in a release received in Nairobi.
"Basically, we'll be forced to reduce the amount of food we distribute per person by at least 30 percent from October onwards.
" WFP had requested some 24,000 tonnes of food for a 12-month period until February 2004.
To date, the Agency has only received 45 percent of the food required.
"We have to be aware that it takes at least three months before a contribution materialises into actual food for distribution," added Stevenson.
"It's imperative to act now and prevent an already worrying situation from deteriorating any further.