“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s quick response to WFP’s appeal will help us save the lives of thousands of children before they fall into severe stages of malnutrition, at which point it would become impossible to keep them alive,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
WFP Somalia will use the Saudi donation to scale up its existing supplementary feeding operation to reach 600,000 children for two months. Since 27 July, WFP airlifted to Mogadishu a total of 86 metric tons of highly nutritious supplementary food to treat malnutrition among children under the age of five. This is enough to feed more than 30,000 malnourished children under age five for a month.
The specialised nutrition products are essential to address critical malnutrition and hunger needs – particularly among internally displaced children who have fled from famine areas in Southern Somalia and those in Mogadishu suffering the consequences of the prolonged drought.
WFP is currently targeting food assistance to some 1.5 million people in central and northern Somalia and Mogadishu, and is ready to scale up to reach an additional 2.2 million people in the famine-struck southern parts of the country. WFP is working on establishing access and other necessary operating conditions in southern Somalia.
Since the beginning of July, WFP has reached nearly 8 million people in the Horn of Africa with food assistance. The UN food agency is planning to assist 11.5 million people out of more than 13 million people affected by the drought and famine in the region, with governments and other partners supporting the rest.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a valued partner of WFP, having donated more than US$600 million to the UN food agency in the past five years. In 2008, at the time of the high food prices crisis, WFP received US$500 million from Saudi Arabia – the largest one-off donation WFP has ever received, and the Kingdom’s largest-ever contribution to any UN agency.
WFP’s Horn of Africa appeal remains $250 million short of current needs, after having received about the same amount in contributions, mainly from government donors.