Friday, February 26, 2010

LDS Missionary Richard Lasson Reports Exceptionally Hard Winter In Mongolia, Massive Livestock Die-Off In Progress

Richard Lasson, who along with his wife are are serving a humanitarian mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mongolia, report that Mongolia is experiencing its worst winter in 30 years. The country is having a weather phenomenon known by locals as a "dzud" -- a summer drought followed by a terrible winter with heavy snow. Temperatures have plunged to as low as -58F. As a result, close to 2.7 million livestock animals have died so far; Analysts predict another 3 million to 4 million animals could die before the end of 2010. The country's total livestock population is about 46 million head. What exacerbates the crisis is nearly 40 percent of Mongolia's 2.7 million population are livestock herders; the country depends significantly on foreign aid as it is.

"They went into the winter unprepared because they weren't able to have enough hay stocked up for their animals, and then the animals weren't that fat because they didn't have that much food in the summer time; and so now they've got a real severe winter; and so a lot of the country is covered with heavy snow, and they've had temperatures as low as 58 degrees below zero," Lasson says. Watch KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

The LDS Church released the following statement: "In response to severe winter weather in Mongolia the Church is partnering with Mongolian officials to distribute food, clothing, medicine, candles, fuel, and hygiene items to herder families and is providing funding to repair broken heating systems in school dormitories."

USA Today reports that officials have declared disaster status in more than half of Mongolia's 21 provinces, and more are set to follow. The Guardian reports that the United Nations has launched a $4 million dollar carcass-clearing appeal for Mongolia.

If you would like to help the people in Mongolia, Lasson suggests donating to the LDS Church's Humanitarian Fund, UNICEF or The American Red Cross and specify you want the funds to go to Mongolia.

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