ROME, 5 August 2002 -- Half a million pastoralists in the Afar region of Ethiopia are suffering from a severe drought and need international assistance, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said today.

Cattle and camels have started dying in the region, where the situation has been aggravated by recent fighting over grazing land and water between population groups, forcing hundreds of people to leave their home areas.

FAO is appealing for US$1.3 million to supply veterinary drugs, animal feed and water to keep animals alive during the crisis. As well as cattle and camels, rescue efforts will include thousands of breeding goats owned by internally displaced families.