As Peruvian quake relief efforts continue, UN food agency seeks urgent funds

22 August 2007

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed to donors to urgently and generously fund its $6.1 million operation to provide food aid to 80,000 people worst affected by last week's deadly earthquake in Peru.

The powerful quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and struck 161 kilometres south of the capital, Lima, resulted in the death of over 500 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

WFP has so far provided over 500 metric tons of mainly ready-to-eat food to the worst affected, including nine tons of high protein biscuits airlifted from the agency's sub-regional emergency logistics hub in neighbouring Ecuador.

The agency's efforts will focus particularly on children aged six to 24 months, women and other high-risks groups such as the elderly. It will also support reconstruction activity through food-for-work programmes.

“For us to be successful, we will have to count on the full support of the international community and we appeal to donors to respond as quickly as possible,” said WFP Country Director Guy Gauvreau.

About $2 million of the funds requested will come from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – the landmark fund established by the world body in 2006 to speed up relief operations for humanitarian emergencies and make funds available quickly after a disaster, when people are most at risk. WFP is hoping donors will provided the remainder.

“We are relying on donors' generosity. This crisis may quickly disappear from the front pages of the newspapers, but the tens of thousands of people affected by this catastrophe will live with the effects for many months to come,” Mr. Gauvreau stated.

WFP also reports that some 300 aftershocks since the devastating quake have left 16,700 families homeless. Those most gravely affected had been the poorest families, whose houses were constructed of a mixture of earth and straw.

Major logistical problems involved damaged roads, huge traffic jams and the fact that people would not leave the rubble of their homes for fear of pillaging, the agency added.

In a related development, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has stressed the urgent need for securing emergency accommodation for the homeless and access to drinking water for those affected by last week's quake.

In a statement issued yesterday in Geneva, Miloon Kothari also said he hoped the tragedy in Peru will ensure the implementation of safe housing standards worldwide, which can “ensure that the loss of life, human suffering and homelessness resulting from natural disasters are minimized in the future.”


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