IN WAKE OF AIR HUB CLOSURE AND‘FORCE OF NATURE' BENEFIT CONCERT, WFP PRAISES MALAYSIA FOR TSUNAMI SUPPORT
KUALA LUMPUR - With the closure of the Humanitarian Air Hub at Subang air base this month, the United Nations World Food Programme today paid tribute to the Government of Malaysia for its extraordinary support in the humanitarian response to the tsunami crisis.
WFP, which established the Humanitarian Air Hub on 7 January for emergency air operations in the tsunami crisis, expressed thanks to the Royal Malaysian Air Force for supplying the facilities and staffing for UN and other aid organizations flying humanitarian cargo and personnel into tsunami-affected countries.
"The Air Hub was of invaluable service to the aid community in this first phase of the emergency," said Anthony Banbury, Regional Director for Asia. "As we now move into the long-term reconstruction phase of our operations, we can see clearly how vital Malaysia's support was for the international community grappling with an overwhelming humanitarian crisis."
Banbury pointed out that the Humanitarian Air Hub relieved the extreme congestion in the airports in Aceh and Northern Sumatra provinces of Indonesia and sharply reduced flying time from the capital Jakarta to those destinations, which were the hardest hit in the entire region.
The Humanitarian Air Hub, managed jointly by WFP, the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service and the UN Joint Logistics Centre, served a total 273 incoming and outgoing flights.
Banbury expressed his appreciation as well to Malaysia's tsunami relief foundation, "Force of Nature," which held a major benefit concert to raise funds for tsunami reconstruction efforts. The concert, at Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur on 18 March, featured international music stars Black Eyed Peas, Backstreet Boys, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Boyz II Men.
Nori Abdullah, daughter of the Malaysian Prime Minister and founding member of ‘Force of Nature,' visited WFP projects in Banda Aceh last week along with Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am, Malaysian film superstar Michelle Yeoh and Malaysia's Special Envoy for Tsunami Relief, Ambassador Razali Ismael.
The high-powered delegation went to a primary school in the Acehnese capital where WFP gives children vitamin-fortified biscuits to build better minds and bodies, and to a displaced people's camp where they met survivors who are receiving WFP food aid.
"Thanks to ‘Force of Nature,' this concert will remind people that the relief work in the tsunami crisis is far from over," said Banbury. "The needs are immense, but ‘Force of Nature' is helping bring both financial support and international attention to the long-term rebuilding that will be required."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. Each year, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.
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