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UN agency to resume emergency aid to stricken Cambodians after Dubai donation

UN agency to resume emergency aid to stricken Cambodians after Dubai donation

Emergency United Nations food aid to almost 100,000 Cambodians suffering from HIV/AIDS and TB can now resume, the World Food Programme (WFP) said today, after the agency received $1 million from the Government of Dubai, but it warned that more donations were urgently needed to fully restart operations in the impoverished country.

In January, key WFP activities affecting 700,000 poor Cambodians were suspended due to lack of funding, but thanks to the Dubai donation, food aid to 70,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS and 18,000 TB patients, will resume earlier than originally expected, the agency said in a press release.

“At stake are the lives of thousands of HIV/AIDS patients receiving anti-retroviral drugs whose effectiveness depends upon proper nourishment,” said WFP Executive Director James Morris. “And then there are the TB patients whose incentive to complete their treatment is often the food aid they receive at treatment centres. All these people are desperately poor – this helping hand from Dubai is truly lifesaving.”

In a poor country like Cambodia where 35 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, hundreds of thousands of children are dependent on WFP meals provided by the agency’s food for education programme.

WFP was already starting to see the negative effects of the suspension of its activities: declines in school attendance rates; reduced attention spans of children in class and worsening health of HIV/AIDS and TB patients as well as, in some cases, a drop in treatment adherence.

The donation by the Government of Dubai will be used to prioritise HIV/AIDS and TB patients but more donations are needed to resume the food for education programme, the agency said.

“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Dubai for their valuable and timely support, which is part of a growing commitment to development aid from the governments in the Gulf region,” said Mr. Morris. “We appeal to others to follow.”

High population growth, low agricultural productivity and poor access to health services in Cambodia continue to hamper progress and the country ranks 129th out of 177 countries in the 2006 UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index.