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WFP sends emergency relief to Morocco's earthquake victims


CAIRO The United Nations World Food Programme today launched a US$200,000 emergency operation to assist the victims of the earthquake that devastated the Al-Hoceima region in north-eastern Morocco in the early morning hours of 24 February, killing almost 600 people, injuring hundreds and leaving many homeless.

WFP, working together with UNICEF and Moroccan government partners, will provide daily meals - consisting of high energy biscuits and locally-procured cheese and milk - to some 16,000 school children and one-month rations of wheat flour, sugar and oil to 1,300 families in the region most affected by the earthquake.

"Our aim is to encourage families to send their children back to school and help them to cope with their losses," said Nicholas Oberlin, Programme Officer for WFP's assessment team in Morocco.

Many of the victims were caught in their sleep when the earthquake, registering 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck the port city of Al-Hoceima and its surrounding villages. Several aftershocks have continued to affect the area, some 300 km north-east of Rabat, and many people are still afraid to sleep indoors, despite the cold and wet conditions. Some 500,000 homeless survivors are living in tents.

Morocco's deadliest earthquake was in 1960, when 12,000 people were killed after a devastating quake destroyed the southern city of Agadir.

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.

For more information please contact:

Nicholas Oberlin
WFP/Cairo (currently in Morocco)
Tel. +20-123922699

Mia Turner
Tel. +20-27545045