Tbilisi - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched a two-month emergency operation on Sunday to assist 1,986 flood victims in Georgia's mountainous Svaneti.
WFP began sending in 44.7 metric tons of food (41.7 metric tons of wheat flour and 3 metric tons of oil) to the hardest hit areas of Mestia's three remote villages of Mulakhi, Tzvirmi and Ipari. Funding for this assistance has been received from WFP donor countries.
"Access to the villages is particularly difficult due to the severely destroyed infrastructure," stated country director Pippa Bradford. "Roads have been washed away and most people are currently without electricity," she added.
The unusually heavy rains and hail storms, which started on 16 July and claimed one life, hit this impoverished agricultural region particularly hard. Limited agricultural land and inadequate infrastructure has made Svaneti one of the poorest areas in Georgia.
The floods have currently destroyed over 70 percent of crucial crops — potatoes and hay, washed away pasture land and domestic animals and damaged homes, some beyond repair.
"The damage is extensive but WFP is committed to carry out relief that will ensure a complete recovery," said Bradford.
WFP has been working in Georgia since 1993. The latest operation, which will assist over 200,000 people, was launched in July, 2003 and will last until June 2006.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2003 WFP fed nearly 110 millon people in 82 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.
For more information please contact:
Pippa Bradford, Country Director, WFP/Tblisi,
Yulon Tsilosani, Programme Assistant, WFP/Tbilisi,
Tel. (+995 32) 253667/8/9