UN emergency food aid programme looks to new EU members for help

13 January 2005

With the number of malnourished people rising and Western donor countries reducing food aid, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is holding a two-day meeting in Rome, starting today, to appeal to the 10 new members of the European Union (EU) for help.

"During this crucial meeting we will discuss ways to deepen and expand partnerships with countries that will not only become significant donors to overseas development aid as their economies expand, but can offer great expertise in areas of great interest to WFP's operations," the agency's Executive Director James Morris said.

The 10 new Member States are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Surveys show that the populations of these countries support their governments' efforts to increase overseas development assistance (ODA) within the EU framework to 0.39 per cent of their Gross National Income, WFP said.

Meanwhile, WFP also asked for humanitarian aid for 1.5 million West Africans working to rebuild three countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - after years of war.

Hundreds of Liberians were returning home, only to find that their homes and farms were destroyed in the civil war, WFP West Africa Regional Director Mustapha Darboe said.

"At the height of the conflicts, we saved lives with emergency food rations. Now we are working to restore communities and restore peace. The needs are different but just as urgent because we're talking about the difference between stability and chaos in a region that cannot afford more turmoil," he said.

This year WFP hoped to extend its daily school feeding programme in the three countries to 730,000 students from 257,000 last year, WFP said. It was also asking for resources to feed 1.46 million people, up from 942,000 last year.

"Unfortunately for this region stability tends to mean fewer headlines," Mr. Darboe said. "We urge the international community not to ignore the still considerable needs here."


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