TIRANA The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed today a donation of 239 metric tons of wheat flour, valued at over US$98,000, from the Czech Republic, for impoverished communities in Albania.
"We appreciate this donation which will help Albanians in their very painful march toward a stable market economy," said Mushtaq Qureshi, WFP's Country Director in Albania.
The cargo, which was transported by trucks to the Albanian port city of Durres, is the third donation by the Czech Republic to Albania in recent years.
Last November, the Czech government donated 167 metric tons of wheat flour, valued at over US$90,000, to WFP's operations in Albania.
"The Czech Republic identifies with WFP's efforts to reduce poverty and global food insecurity," said Jiri Muchka of the Trade Relations Department at the Czech Ministry of Agriculture.
"In 1995 the Czech Republic was the first among post-communist countries to re-establish its development program, and to gradually increase the volume and effectiveness of its development and humanitarian assistance," he added.
Since 1999, the Czech government has donated over US$1 million in humanitarian aid to WFP. Most of the donations have been directed to countries close to home, and struggling with the legacy of post-communism, such as the Balkans and North Caucasus.
In a clear indication that the country intends to both diversify and increase its donor potential, the Czech Republic made a financial contribution to WFP's emergency operation in Iraq last year.
"This latest donation to Albania is part of the Czech Republic's annual contribution to WFP. It is our aim to help give multilateral assistance to our less developed partners around the world," added Muchka.
Albania, where 44 years of Communist rule ended in 1990, is struggling to overcome widespread unemployment, low income and an economy that is still largely dependent on agriculture.
WFP has been providing emergency assistance to the country since 1997, when the collapse of the pyramid financial schemes led to massive economic upheaval. Two years later, it helped the country overcome the Kosovo crisis when hundreds of thousands of Kosovars fled to Albania in search of refuge.
Last April, the UN agency launched an 18-month relief and recovery operation, which assists more than 133,000 people. Costing US$4.71 million, the assistance includes 10,470 tons of wheat flour, vegetable oil and salt.
In Albania, WFP activities focus on three areas: social sector assistance; communal forestry and pasture management; and community asset building through food-for-work projects, including construction of roads to remote villages and rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage canals.
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.
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