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Japan said Wednesday it will offer $1.86 million in emergency grants to provide relief to Afghans who have fled their homes in the face of a prolonged civil war and natural disasters, the Foreign Ministry said.

The money will be provided to groups such as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which have issued appeals to the international community to help Afghanistan’s refugees and internally displaced people.

Conditions at refugee camps in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan, where many refugees have fled to, are said to be deteriorating due to extremely low temperatures that started late last year as well as a lack of food and materials. Some deaths have been reported, the ministry said.

Afghanistan has been experiencing civil conflict since the 1979 coup and has suffered from major droughts in recent years, the ministry said.

U.N. officials have said more than 600,000 Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan in the last four months of 2000 alone, while at least 150,000 people are displaced in the country.

In addition to the grant, Japan will also give the World Food Program 538 million yen to purchase flour for the Afghan refugees and displaced people.

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