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Chile airlifts WFP food to flood victims

CHILE AIRLIFTS WFP FOOD TO FLOOD VICTIMS IN GUYANA

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA -The Government of Chile has made available to the UN World Food Programme a C-130 Hercules transport plane to airlift food for the victims of floods that have affected more than 300,000 people in Guyana - 40 percent of the country's total population.

The Hercules will be transporting during the weekend 14 metric tons of food from Ecuador, including eight tons of high energy biscuits and nearly six tons of canned tuna. The food will complement the 76 tons of commodities already purchased in Guyana.

The Chilean shipment is part of an immediate response operation with a total of 110 tons of food to be distributed with the assistance of the Government of Guyana to affected families living along the country's eastern coastline. Last month, the Ecuadorian Government sent two Hercules aircraft carrying a total of 27.5 tons of WFP emergency food supplies to Guyana.

"We want to express our gratitude to the Chilean Government for this logistical support that will help WFP to bring critical and timely food assistance to thousands of people in flood-stricken Guyana," said Pedro Medrano, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A joint WFP - Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) rapid assessment mission visited shelters on the east coast of the Demerara River. It found that children in shelters were in need of suitable foodstuffs. The distributions of high energy biscuits started last week in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).

Piero Terranera, WFP's Mission Head in Guyana, said: "It is devastating to witness how many people have lost their crops and livestock. This means losing the ability to produce their most valuable resource: food."

Following weeks of heavy rainfall, severe floods hit homes and villages in the low lying parts near the capital Georgetown and the Atlantic coast of the country on 14 January, killing at least six people and forcing thousands into emergency shelters. Between 80,000 and 92,000 people still have water in or around their homes.

The weather forecast for Guyana has predicted more rainfall for next week, in what should be the dry season. Meanwhile, the Guyanese Government has issued health hazards warnings due to an outbreak of leptospirosis, which has caused the deaths of 18 people and infected a further 45. Leptospirosis is caused by animal urine in water.

On 8 February the United Nations launched an appeal for nearly US$3 million aimed at meeting the immediate needs of the Guyanese population while preparing the way for recovery. As part of this appeal, WFP is asking for US$800,000 to provide food assistance to 20,000 people for the next six months.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year we give food aid to an average of 90 people, including 56 million hungry children, in 80 countries.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Visit our website: www.wfp.org.

For more information please contact:

Maria Gabriela Flores
WFP/Ecuador (in Guyana)
Tel. +592-660-6362
mariagabriela.flores@wfp.org

Alejandro Chicheri
WFP/Latin America and the Caribbean (in Guyana)
Cell +507 6750617
alejandro.lopez@wfp.org

Brenda Barton
Deputy Director Communications Division
WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2602
Cell +39 3472582217
brenda.barton@wfp.org