World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of Mongolian herders face disastrous livestock losses from a dreaded severe weather phenomenon known as the "dzud", the Red Cross said Thursday in launching an international emergency aid appeal.
It threatens tens of thousands of herders in a country where almost half the population depends entirely on livestock for food, transportation and income, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.
Cattle, sheep and other animals usually die en masse in the dzud, weakened by insufficient summer grazing that prevents them building up the fat reserves necessary to withstand winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).
"In spring, animals give birth and when the livestock are already exhausted from the winter they are at high risk without adequate feed, shelter and veterinarian care, which does not exist in some remote areas,” Nordov Bolormaa, secretary-general of the Mongolian Red Cross said at a press conference.
As of early February, more than 42,546 livestock had perished in the current dzud, she said, citing official Mongolian figures.
Launching its appeal in Beijing, the Red Cross said the figures were expected to grow "exponentially" with the full impact likely only becoming clear by May.
More than a million animals died in the 2015-16 dzud.
The Red Cross estimated that currently more than 157,000 people are "at risk" this year across 17 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces.
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