COLOMBO – WFP has dispatched 1,000 metric tons of critically needed humanitarian food assistance to Puthumathalan, the designated ‘safe zone’ along the coast of Mullaitivu in northeastern Sri Lanka, where an estimated more than 100,000 people have been displaced by fighting.
The WFP food assistance was sent aboard a ship chartered by the Government of Sri Lanka sailing under the flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and was due to be unloaded by the weekend.
“The Government’s timely provision of a large-capacity vessel enabled WFP and other partners to ship this urgently needed assistance,” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative and Country Director. “This is the largest shipment we have sent and it comes at a crucial time for these people.”
In addition to mixed food commodities, including rice, wheat flour, lentils, sugar, vegetable oil and Corn Soya Blend, WFP also shipped some 30 tons of complementary food items (vegetables and condiments) as well as non-food items on behalf of other UN agencies and partners.
Khan said the WFP food would be sufficient to feed approximately 100,000 people for 20 days.
Since road convoys to Vanni were discontinued in late January 2009 due to security concerns, WFP, with the support of the Government, has dispatched a total of 2,219 metric tonnes, including this most recent dispatch, using the sea route. In addition to these shipments to the conflict zone, WFP is helping the Government to meet the food needs of nearly 60,000 displaced people who fled the conflict zone and are currently accommodated in transit camps/welfare villages in Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya.
Overall, WFP is providing food to 1.2 million people through emergency feeding and recovery programmes.