US football players touch down for UN tsunami relief in Sri Lanka

16 February 2005

Continuing relief efforts to help survivors of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, National Football League (NFL) players from the United States kicked off a four-day visit to Sri Lanka today to work with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on its emergency operation to feed hungry families.

Continuing relief efforts to help survivors of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, National Football League (NFL) players from the United States kicked off a four-day visit to Sri Lanka today to work with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on its emergency operation to feed hungry families.

New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer and Kansas City Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson were visiting the southern city of Galle to help unload food aid from trucks for temporary storage in the WFP warehouse. Tomorrow they will pack the WFP rations and help distribute them to people who lost their homes and livelihoods.

“We are thrilled to have these two great players here in Sri Lanka to raise awareness about the critical work we do in Asia, as well as the rest of the world,” WFP Country Director Jeff Taft-Dick said.

“Both Amani and Tony will be lending their physical support to the people affected by the tsunami, but they will also be drawing attention to the needs of so many hungry and vulnerable families in other parts of the world,” he added.

Earlier this week Mr. Toomer and teammate quarterback Kurt Warner worked on WFP relief efforts in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the area worst-hit by December’s tsunami, which killed over 200,000 people and left up 5 million lacking basic services in a dozen countries.

WFP is helping feed more than 850,000 people in Sri Lanka, the second-most ravaged region, with a large logistics network spread throughout the country.

Mr. Toomer and Mr. Richardson are also pitching in with the post-tsunami clean-up, spending tomorrow afternoon cleaning and painting school desks at a Galle primary school, where the students will get WFP food every day they are in class. The players will also visit a health clinic that will receive WFP nutritional food supplements for children.

In a related development the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today it had received firm donor commitments of around $20.5 million to finance early recovery assistance for the millions of fisherfolk and farmers affected by the disaster. But it added that much more support will be needed to help rebuild the devastated fisheries and agriculture sectors on which the majority of people in the hardest hit communities depend for their livelihoods.

In Indonesia alone, damage and losses to agriculture, fisheries, agro-enterprises, irrigation and flood control systems, and the environment amount to some $1.3 billion.

 

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