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WFP lauds landmark Chinese aid shipment for Sri Lankan tsunami victims

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME LAUDS LANDMARK CHINESE AID SHIPMENT FOR SRI LANKAN TSUNAMI VICTIMS

QINGDAO PORT, CHINA - The United Nations World Food Programme today hailed the departure from China of a ship carrying 270 tonnes of canned fish for Sri Lankan victims of last December's devastating tsunami as another milestone in China's emergence as a multilateral aid donor.

The Bunga Bidara steamed out of the east coast port of Qingdao on Wednesday morning en route to Colombo with 16 containers of mackerel valued at US$320,000 (RMB2.6 million) on board. It is the first of two such shipments, worth a total of US$1 million, to support WFP food-for-work schemes helping 180,000 Sri Lankans rebuild roads and other infrastructure damaged by the tidal surges.

"This generous and timely assistance testifies to China's strong sense of solidarity with a fellow Asian country still struggling to recover from the deadly disaster," said WFP Executive Director James Morris.

"It also underscores the Beijing government's growing commitment to multilateralism as a way of solving the world's humanitarian and development problems."

The Chinese funding for WFP's tsunami relief operation in Sri Lanka is part of a US$20 million donation to United Nations agencies announced by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Shortly before the tsunami devastated coastal areas around the Indian Ocean last December, China and WFP - the world's largest humanitarian agency - marked a 25-year partnership by pledging to step up cooperation to combat global hunger.

In addition to a promise of increased Chinese funding for WFP operations worldwide, both sides are working on the terms of a pact that would make China's considerable expertise available to the agency to strengthen its capacity to respond to sudden food emergencies. Frequently afflicted by natural disasters - flooding, drought and earthquakes - China has developed exemplary capabilities to manage the consequences.

WFP will phase out food assistance to China by the end of 2005.

"Having made unparalleled progress in reducing poverty, China is now forging a broader relationship with us that reflects our shared vision of a world free of hunger," said Dominique Frankefort, WFP's acting Country Director for China.

In 2004, China supported WFP operations to the tune of US$36 million, the bulk of it devoted to food-for-work and food-for-training schemes in China itself.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Visit our website: www.wfp.org

For more information please contact (email: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Dominique Frankefort
Deputy Country Director
WFP China
Tel: +86-10-6532 3731 ext 5207
Mob: +86-13601169994;

Annabel Wang
Public Affairs Officer
WFP China
Tel. +86-10-6532 3731 ext. 5321
Mob. +86-13910057802;

Gerald Bourke
Public Affairs Officer
WFP China
Tel. +86-10-6532 3731 ext 5209,
Mob. +86-13801054051.