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WFP welcomes speedy and generous US support for tsunami survivors

WASHINGTON The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) today welcomed the speedy and generous response of the US Food For Peace office of USAID and the US Department of Agriculture for their prompt donations of US$30 million towards WFP's emergency operation to assist survivors of the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean.

USAID was exceptionally quick in responding to the immediate needs of people affected by the tsunami. Within 18 hours of the deadly waves washing away hundreds of thousands of lives, USAID had mobilised food stocks pre-positioned at a warehouse in Dubai.

"Even before we had finalised our emergency operation and calculated our requirements, USAID had set the food supply lines in motion - as well as diverted ships carrying much needed aid to Indonesia and Sri Lanka," said Judith Lewis, Director US Relations, Washington DC.

US food aid has been unloaded at ports in the worst hit countries and the US Department of Agriculture also re-directed considerable food stocks positioned in the region to WFP's emergency response operation. The total US donation includes some 15,000 metric tons of rice; 2,460 tons of corn soya blend; 1,000 tons of yellow whole peas; 5,450 tons of (bagged) rice and 2,310 tons of vegetable oil.

In addition to the support of US military aircraft in transporting humanitarian cargo to those in need, USAID has also provided US$5 million to WFP's special operations. The logistics effort, which is especially challenging in this widespread and diverse disaster area - is critical. Without the means to charter helicopters and vessels, WFP cannot reach the remote areas where people have been short of food ever since the tsunami hit.

"We are particularly impressed by the pace at which this assistance has been given," said Lewis. "By responding so fast in this emergency, the US blazed a trail in coping with a humanitarian catastrophe of this magnitude."

Since the tragedy struck five weeks ago, WFP has dispatched more than 20,000 tons of food to some 1.3 million people in seven countries around the Indian Ocean. "Without the swift support - in cash and kind - of donors like the US, this remarkable achievement would not have been possible," said Lewis.

"The United States continues to be our largest donor. Last year they gave an astounding
US$1.019 billion to WFP operations in more than 80 countries, ranging from Darfur to North Korea, and from the Far East to Latin America. We are profoundly grateful for this generosity, enabling us to bring not just nourishment but hope to millions of the hungry poor."

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency; each year, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.

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.

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Trevor Rowe,
Tel. +1-212-9635196,
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Brenda Barton,
Deputy Director Communications,
Tel. +39-06-65132602

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

Christiane Berthiaume,
Tel. +41-22-9178564,
Mob. +41-79-2857304