US emergency food aid amid WFP fears for 2011

[TamilNet, Friday, 31 December 2010, 19:07 GMT]
The United States this week provided the UN’s World Food Program operation in Sri Lanka with $5.5 million of emergency food aid, shortly after the organisation warned of serious shortages and halved the wheat flour and sugar in rations it distributes to displaced people. The food situation remained ‘fragile’, despite improving since march 2010, and the next four months are critical , the WFP was quoted by IRIN as warning. The WFP estimates that it needs some $27 million next year to continue to provide assistance to an estimated 371,000 Tamils displaced by the armed conflict from 2008 and has warned of a “pipeline break” looming in 2011.

The donation by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) this week consisted of 6,740 metric tonnes of wheat flour, pulses and vegetable oil, a news release from US embassy in Colombo said.

WFP Country Representative Adnan Khan said the US donation comes at a critical juncture for displaced Tamils returning to their homes, who have to spend considerably to supplement WFP handouts.

"It will allow WFP to continue providing much-needed food and nutritional support to the returnee population and increase their food security," he said.

“USAID remains the largest and most consistent food aid donor to Sri Lanka and we are happy to support the food needs of 300,000 returnees,” US Ambassador Patricia A Butenis said.

Two weeks ago, WFP warned that "growing [donor] funding shortfalls since the beginning of 2010 have seriously circumscribed agencies' capacity to deliver life-saving services to IDPs in camps and to returnees."

WFP is to launch a new initiative to support the hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamils.

"Our target is to raise 40 million dollars for this new initiative and we sincerely hope that other donor countries will extend their support to fulfill the needs of affected people,” Khan said.

A UN survey of 1,755 households in five districts —Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Killinochi and Mannar — the majority of resettled people spend more than 65 per cent of their income on food, IRIN reported.

Meanwhile, WFP has said it will cease assistance to those in ‘advanced’ stages of recovery after being resettled in 2007 and 2008, press reports said.

Instead the WFP will target the most vulnerable populations, including households headed by single women, mothers, pregnant women, and schoolchildren.

However, there are still serious needs in the eastern province which saw renewed mass displacement from 2006 to 2007, according to local officials.

These areas have seen no kind of sustained development for a long time," Rasanayagam Rahulanayani, the top government official in the eastern division of Vaharai, told IPS.

 

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