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WFP rushes food to assist victims of floods in Guyana

ECUADOR - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) with the assistance of the Government of Ecuador is sending emergency food rations in a Hercules C-130 aircraft to assist victims of the recent floods in Guyana.

The plane scheduled to depart on Thursday from Quito is carrying an initial 12 MT of ready-to-eat rations to assist women and children in vulnerable condition. WFP is also deploying experienced staff members to the area to help with the emergency distributions.

The plane will land in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, only 30 kilometres away from the flood zone.

WFP plans to provide food for one month to 10,000 of the worst-affected people in Guyana. Over the next two weeks, 112 MT of food, valued at US$387,000, are planned for distribution. The first load of food being delivered today consists of high protein biscuits, a nutritious food which does not require preparation before eating, and is suitable for situations where there is no access to dry wood or cooking facilities.

Following weeks of unusual heavy rainfalls, floods inundated homes and villages in the low laying parts near the capital Georgetown and the Atlantic cost of the country, killing at least six people and pushing some 5,000 to emergency shelters. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) more than 120,000 people of a total population of 750,000 is affected. Currently a United Nations Development Assistance Framework team (UNDAC), including WFP staff is in Georgetown assessing the situation.

"The water has destroyed not only people's food reserves but also killed many of their livestock. Food prices are on the rise and emergency ready-to-eat rations will be needed to enable communities that remain under chest-high water to cope until the flood waters recede," said Pedro Medrano, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

More rains are expected in the city and along the east coast in coming days. A high tide advisory has been issued, warning people living along the coast to take precautions against flooding.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.

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):

Alejandro Chicheri,
WFP/Latin America and the Caribbean,
Tel. +507 3173900,
Cell +507 6750617

Brenda Barton,
Deputy Director Communications,
WFP/Rome,
Tel. +39-06-65132602,
Mob. +39-3472582217

Gregory Barrow,
WFP/London,
Tel. +44-20-75929292,
Mob. +44-7968-008474

Christiane Berthiaume,

WFP/Geneva,
Tel. +41-22-9178564,
Mob. +41-79-2857304

Trevor Rowe,
WFP/NY,
Tel. +1-212-9635196
Mob. +1-646-8241112
rowe@un.org

Jordan Dey,
WFP/Washington,
Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149,
Mob. +1-202-4223383