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WFP applauds US$1.3 million Indian donation to assist Iraqi children

WFP has welcomed a US$1.3 million donation from India to WFP’s Iraq operation, which assists 3.8 million people, more than half of whom are children.

WFP has welcomed a US$1.3 million donation from India to WFP’s Iraq operation, which assists 3.8 million people, more than half of whom are children.

The Iraqi people are today enduring terrible hardships and we must do everything possible to ensure their basic needs are met

Stefano Porretti, WFP’s Country Director for Iraq

“Since becoming a donor to WFP, the Government of India has shown continuously generous and timely support for our emergency operations around the world,” said GianPietro Bordignon, WFP’s Country Director in India.

In September 2004, WFP launched a one-year emergency operation in Iraq targeting the most vulnerable sector of the population.

Food insecurity concern

The project supports these groups by providing food assistance to over 1.7 million primary school children, 223,200 malnourished children and their family members (over 1.1 million), over 350,000 pregnant and lactating mothers and 6,400 tuberculosis patients.

WFP is increasingly concerned about the rising level of food insecurity and malnutrition found particularly among children.

According to a WFP household survey in 2005, over 27 percent of all Iraqi children up to the age of five were chronically malnourished, despite receiving food rations from the government’s Public Distribution System.

Environment of conflict

Growing poverty has also resulted in low enrolment and high dropout rates.

“The Iraqi people are today enduring terrible hardships and we must do everything possible to ensure their basic needs are met. We must also especially address the needs of children who are growing up in an environment of conflict,” stressed Stefano Porretti, WFP’s Country Director for Iraq.

WFP’s operation in Iraq faces continuous shortfalls in resources. Moreover, beneficiary numbers are growing faster than anticipated. Currently, some 10,237 metric tons of mixed commodities are needed to assist over 3.5 million beneficiaries up to June 2007.

Safety net

“WFP’s operation does not claim to be a cure-all for the food security problems of the people marginalised by poverty, but it does try to ensure that there is some kind of basic food safety net for those whose voices are not being heard,” stressed Porretti.

To date, and including India’s donation, WFP has received only US$45 million of the necessary funds to cover the US$60 million costs of the emergency operation.

India has become a major regional donor to WFP since late 2002, when the Government of India pledged that it would donate one million metric tons of wheat to feed schoolchildren in Afghanistan.

Third Indian donation

This is India’s third donation to WFP’s operation in Iraq. The first two donations were in-kind and included 3,331 metric tons of high-energy biscuits in 2005 and 520 metric tons of biscuits a year later.

The current donation is cash and will be used to buy wheat that will be transformed by local Indian manufacturers into 2,000 metric tons of fortified high-energy biscuits, which will be distributed among the nearly two million Iraqi children WFP assists.

Since the start of the current operation in 2004, some 28,876 metric tons of commodities have been dispatched into Iraq.

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