WFP PRAISES BIG JAPANESE DONATION FOR FOOD AID OPERATIONS
TOKYO 16 March The United Nations' World Food Programme has welcomed a donation of US$35 million from the Japanese Government for 20 countries around the world to assist refugees, internally displaced persons and victims of natural disasters and poverty in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
The donation was approved by the Japanese cabinet earlier today. This major contribution gives special attention to countries where WFP has its greatest shortfalls. It also places a new emphasis on school feeding and other development activities. Some US$14.7 million - 42 percent of the donation - will go to support WFP operations in 12 countries in Africa, where almost 40 million people, whose lives have been shattered by conflict, natural disasters or poor economic management, receive WFP food aid.
"WFP welcomes this continuing support for Africa as a follow-up to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development last fall," said WFP Executive Director James T. Morris. "At a time when donor interest is tending to focus on high-profile areas, Japan's leadership in making this contribution gives real hope for the future of millions of children in Africa suffering from chronic malnutrition."
The funds will be used to buy wheat flour, maize, rice, sorghum, pulses and vegetable oil and canned tuna.
A total of US$4.6 million has been allocated to operations in southern Africa where food security is at risk due to continuing drought and the HIV/AIDS pandemic; US$1.8 million will be used for displaced persons in the Great Lakes region and a further US$1.8 million is for food aid in Liberia to assist the recovery from a decade of civil war. The donation will also support school feeding projects in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Since the beginning of February, WFP, along with other humanitarian organisations, has been expressing growing concern over the growing insecurity in Haiti, a country where the most vulnerable were already struggling to cope with precarious living conditions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 2.4 million Haitians, out of a total population of eight million, are unable to cover their daily food requirements. Recent studies indicate that more than 50 percent of the population is malnourished and faces chronic food insecurity. Japan is one of the first countries to respond, by allocating US$2.8 million to support WFP operations in Haiti.
"This is a very timely response to a serious crisis," Morris said. "WFP greatly appreciates Japan's concern and generosity - we now have a growing partnership with Japan, which we value enormously."
A further US$14.7 million will go to Asia in order to support WFP operations in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Laos.
Japanese Government donations to WFP already amount to US$58.6 million this year, following a total contribution of US$130 million in 2003, which made Japan WFP's fourth largest donor last year.
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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