WFP HEAD, MEETING WITH NEW ZEALAND PM, WELCOMES NEW DONATION TO NORTH KOREA
AUCKLAND - The Executive-Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, James Morris, today warmly welcomed a NZ$370,000 (US$250,000) donation by New Zealand to the cash-strapped WFP emergency operation in North Korea, which was announced as he began his first official visit to the country.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Morris announced the donation after meeting here on the first day of his visit to discuss the country's growing partnership with WFP. WFP had only four days earlier issued an appeal for North Korea, where shortfalls in funding have forced the agency to cut food aid to 6.5 million people, mostly women and young children, until fresh supplies arrive in April.
"New Zealand is one of the first to respond to our plea for help," said Morris, noting the strong international concerns that the current massive food shortages in North Korea may develop into famine. "We are grateful for this rapid and generous response from New Zealand, and we know it will lead the way for other countries to follow because of the respect they hold for New Zealand as a good global citizen."
After the meeting with Prime Minister Clark, Morris praised New Zealand's foreign policy goal of eradicating poverty as the most direct way to create a safe and just world. He added that he looked forward to strengthening cooperation with New Zealand in a renewed campaign to end the hard-core poverty that breeds first hunger and then other global problems including today's continually impending threat of terrorism.
"Hunger creates a culture in which young people lose faith in the future," Morris said. "If young, desperate people do not even know where their next meal is coming from, they become easy targets for those who recruit for extremist causes."
Morris noted that WFP and New Zealand also have a strong shared interest in the countries of the Pacific Rim. In addition to North Korea, both are working in such countries as Indonesia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
As an illustration of New Zealand's achievements in promoting poverty eradication, Morris noted that Prime Minister Clark was awarded in December the Ceres Medal of the Food and Agriculture Organisation for her commitment to international partnership and food security.
During his visit to New Zealand, whose annual donation to WFP has tripled in the last two years to NZ$4.2 million (US$2.4 million), Morris also met with leading NGOs and the country's multinational dairy company Fonterra, to discuss the possible use of dried milk products in WFP's rations.
"New Zealand has always been important to us because it is a good international citizen," Morris said. "And we are looking forward to working even more closely with a country that has developed a strong vision for a world in which people are no longer crippled by poverty and hunger."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2003 WFP fed nearly 104 million people in 81 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.
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