MSF investigates Mongolia famine warning

Two MSF staff members arrived in Ulaan Bataar on March 13, 2000, to conduct an assessment in Mongolia.
The worst winter (Dzud) in 30 years, which has followed the summer drought, has killed already 1.6 million livestock. The death of animal stocks now threatens the livelihood and food security of up to a quarter of the population of 2.7 million people who depend entirely on animal rearing. More animals are expected to die.

The food situation amongst herders and their families is expected to deteriorate in the next few months, particularly as essential winter food reserves of dried meat become depleted. The lack of animals will affect the summer diet of milk and diary products, which could result in a nutritional emergency. Women, children and elderly are especially vulnerable as they are left behind while the men are go off to search for their animals and better conditions.

The existing food supply problems have been exacerbated due to socio-ecomomic problems in Mongolia. The Mongolian government, as well as the UN, has appealed already for international assistance. This week the assessment team will visit one of the most affected areas.