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WFP speeds relief food to assist Madagascar's cyclone victims

WFP SPEEDS RELIEF FOOD TO ASSIST MADAGASCAR'S CYCLONE VICTIMS

JOHANNESBURG The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today started sending supplies of emergency rice to immediately assist thousands of people affected by Cyclone Ernest and the ensuing tropical storm that struck south west Madagascar last week.

At least 17 people were killed and 139 others are still reported missing after the two storms struck the province of Tulear. More than 11,000 people were made homeless. WFP plans to initially assist nearly 5,285 of the worst-affected people while assessments in the region are being conducted to determine the extent of the damage.

"Everyone who has been affected by these two terrible storms will receive relief food," said Gianluca Ferrera, WFP's Deputy Country Director for Madagascar. "We will have a better picture of what's needed in a day or two but in the meantime, food will be distributed to those who have been most critically affected by the flooding."

WFP has prepositioned about 5,200 tonnes of food in and around Tulear, from which this first tranche of 45 tons of rice is being drawn. This food was originally positioned to assist people affected by drought make it through the lean season which also coincides with the cyclone season that runs from December until April. Tulear Province is traditionally food insecure.

WFP, UNICEF, the country's National Emergency Service, and representatives from the European Union left the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo, on Sunday to conduct a two-day helicopter mission of the area. WFP has also deployed two additional staff to Tulear to coordinate the agency's response. Large parts of the city are still underwater which is also hampering relief efforts.

"Initial indications are that the damage caused from these storms has not been as extensive as that caused by previous cyclones," Ferrera said. "That being said, many people will need help to start rebuilding their lives and repair their homes, and food aid will most certainly play an important role in enabling them to do this."

Last year Madagascar was hit by one of the country's worst storms when Cyclone Gafilo battered the country's north-east coast before traversing the country and wreaking devastation in the south. Gafilo killed 241 people and followed directly on the heels of another cyclone that killed 29 people.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: we give food aid to an average of 90 million people in more than 80 countries each year, 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 general website: www.wfp.org.

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

Mike Huggins,
WFP Johannesburg,
Tel. +27-11-517-1662,
Mob. +27-832-913750

Stefania Trasseri,
WFP Madagascar,
Tel. +261-20-22-31572,
Mob. +261-32-0207-644

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