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UN food agency teams up with Islamic relief group to boost aid for poor and hungry

UN food agency teams up with Islamic relief group to boost aid for poor and hungry

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today signed an agreement with the international Islamic aid organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, to increase cooperation on vital feeding programmes for the poor regardless of colour or creed, both for immediate emergency relief and longer-term initiatives.

“This is a team that can make a real difference to the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said. “For many years, WFP has worked alongside Islamic Relief in crises as diverse as the Pakistan earthquake and the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Strengthening our relationship in this way is the logical next step.”

The partnership will aid the poor and the hungry irrespective of religion but it recognizes that the majority of WFP beneficiaries are from the Muslim world. On average, WFP feeds around 90 million people a year and more than half of these come from Muslim communities.

“Whether it is in Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or the occupied Palestinian territory, we rely heavily on our colleagues in organizations like Islamic Relief because of their strong contacts in the Muslim world,” Mr. Morris said. “As we learned in Lebanon, when the conflict [with Israel] erupted this summer, it is important to have allegiances like this to ensure we can deliver aid quickly and effectively to those who need it most.”

WFP currently has more than 2,000 operational partnerships around the world, some with small community based organizations, and others with large international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The partnership between WFP and Islamic Relief will encompass everything from emergency operations where food is distributed rapidly to large populations in immediate need to longer-term interventions such as school feeding or rehabilitation programmes for countries emerging from natural or man-made disasters.

“I am very happy with this formalization of our relationship, as the signing of this memorandum of understanding brings this successful cooperation to the limelight,” Islamic Relief President Hany El Banna said, stressing that it offers new opportunities to “improve the way in which we serve the world’s poorest communities and our ability to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty.”