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United States Donates US$5 Million In Rice And Oil To WFP Mauritania For Assistance To Malian Refugees

NOUAKCHOTT – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a donation of 3 270 metric tons of rice and 60 metric tons of vegetable oil, worth almost US$5 million, from the United State’s Office of Food for Peace to feed Malians seeking refuge in Mauritania.

This donation will allow WFP to assist an expected 70, 000 refugees with rice for a period of approximately four and a half months through the rainy and lean seasons, and will cover the refugee’s requirements of vegetable oil for one month. Each refugee is receiving an individual food ration composed of rice, pulses, oil, sugar, salt and “super cereal” (a blend of fortified corn and soya).

“We are exceptionally grateful for the concern the United States has shown to respond to an urgent request for support to relieve the suffering of the refugee population and address the fragile situation of host communities in the area,” said Alain Cordeil, WFP Mauritania Country Director. “As we near the peak of the food security crisis and the ‘lean season’ in June and July, vulnerable families struggle to meet their food needs as they wait for the next harvest. The generous Food for Peace contribution relieves WFP’s looming shortfall in cereals and its distribution, as part of a full WFP ration, will meet the food requirements of refugees, lessening the burden placed on host communities in the region where the M’bera refugee camp is located.”

The donation also responds to the need to preposition food commodities before the start of the rainy season in June, which will present an additional obstacle for the transportation of food commodities to the affected region. Bassikounou and M’bera camp are located at the extreme southeast of the country where the intense climate, poor road infrastructures and isolation hinders access. A distance that normally takes five hours can take one month to travel during the rainy season.

On 13 May 2012, WFP received the shipment of rice at the port of Nouakchott and it is being sent directly to Bassikounou where it is being prepositioned for distribution to the refugee population that has settled in M’bera camp. The shipment of vegetable oil is en route and will also be immediately sent to warehouses in Bassikounou upon its arrival.

Ongoing tensions in northern Mali have forced tens of thousands of Malians to flee their homes and seek refuge in Mauritania.  More than 61 000 refugees from Mali are hosted in Mauritania and this number continues to increase at an average rate of 300 people per day. Mauritania is hosting the largest number of refugees among countries affected by the crisis, including Niger and Burkina Faso.

The displacement of these populations has occurred in a context where the Sahel region in general and Mauritania in particular are suffering a food and nutrition crisis. A survey conducted by WFP and the CSA (Mauritanian Food Security Commission) in December 2011 showed that the Hodh El Chargui region, where the M’bera refugee camp is located, is the most affected by food insecurity due to the ongoing crisis (37 percent or 120,000 persons affected).

The United States is one of the largest donors to WFP operations in Mauritania. This donation has also been accompanied by a contribution of over US$2.8 million for WFP’s rural and urban cash transfer activities in response to the food security crisis.

For more information please contact (email address:
Alain Cordeil, WFP/ Nouakchott, Tel. + 222 45 25 27 93 x 2100, Mob + 222 22 18 80 82
Katie Fackler, WFP/Nouakchott, Tel. + 222 45 25 27 93 x 2500, Mobile : + 222 20 38 56 11
Malek Triki, WFP/Dakar, Tel. +221 33 849 65 00 x 2103, Mobile: +221 77 637 59 64