Turkey becomes major donor for food crises in West Africa
ANKARA - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a cash donation of US$1.8 million from the Republic of Turkey which will go to assist WFP's operations in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
"This is an incredible donation from a country that continues to generously support WFP's work," said John Powell, WFP's Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications."
The donation will be dispersed among WFP's emergency operations in six countries: Niger (US$600,000), Mali (US$300,000), Mauritania (US$300,000), Burkina Faso (US$200,000), Sierra Leone (US$200,000) and Guinea (US$200,000).
"All these countries are facing severe difficulties. In Niger alone, some 2.5 million people are facing extreme hunger and WFP is racing to reach them. But our efforts in Niger are being slowed down because of severe funding shortfalls. So far, we have received only 36 percent of the US$57.6 million we desperately need. So Turkey's donation comes at a critical moment," Powell said.
"Turkey is well aware of the serious challenges we face in the world today
and is trying to offer a solution by strengthening our commitment to organizations like WFP in an effort to wipe out hunger, malnutrition and poverty," said Ugur Ziyal, Turkey's Ambassador to Rome and Permanent Representative to WFP.
"The latest donation to WFP is yet another dimension of our willingness to help those in need and we pledge to remain an active partner," he added.
"This is the second Turkish donation in two months and we are very grateful for the continuing assistance," noted Amir Abdulla, WFP's Regional Director in Cairo for the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
"In June, Turkey made a US$150,000 cash contribution which was used to procure 161 metric tons of fortified vegetable oil to assist WFP beneficiaries in Tajikistan," he added.
Turkey's donor relationship with WFP goes back to the 1960s, when Turkey first began giving in-kind contributions to the humanitarian agency's worldwide operations.
At the end of 2002, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, WFP opened its office in Ankara as Turkey became one of WFP's six essential transport corridors into Iraq. The others were Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Iran and the Iraqi port of Um Qasr.
WFP delivered food through the six corridors starting from April 2003. By the end of October 2003, it had transported over 2.1 million tons of food, by far the largest food assistance ever delivered over such a short period of time, to assist the whole population of some 26 million people. Out of this, nearly half a million metric tons were delivered through Silopi, on Turkey's border with Iraq, representing 24 percent of the total deliveries in 2003.
Out of the food delivered by WFP to Iraq through the Turkish corridor in 2003 and 2004, some 50 percent was purchased domestically, with Turkish transporters moving it into northern Iraq.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
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