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Nepal: UN official appeals for unimpeded access for delivery of humanitarian aid

Nepal: UN official appeals for unimpeded access for delivery of humanitarian aid

A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) official today repeated his call for his agency’s staff, trucks carrying food aid and its partners to have unhindered access to deliver urgently-needed humanitarian assistance to flood-impacted people in the Terai region of Nepal.

Although the WFP has received assurances from several parties that they will ensure that the agency’s staff and food aid delivery will not be impeded, they “are not being permitted to move along highways in the Terai during strike periods,” Richard Ragan, WFP Country Representative in Nepal, said in a statement.

In the last week, commercial trucks transporting humanitarian food supplies those affected by floods in Kailali, Banke and Bardiya have been blocked in several sections of the East-West Highway, he said.

Mr. Ragan also warned that should WFP staff and trucks carrying supplies continue to be hindered in their efforts to deliver aid, “we will be forced to suspend operations to provide humanitarian food assistance to flood victims.”

Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted that the affected agro-ecological zone of the Terai is the Himalayan nation’s grain basket, accounting for over 70 per cent of the total production of rice, the basic staple. Though water levels have receded from the second week of August, thousands of hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed at the peak of the planting season, FAO said.

While a detailed assessment of crop losses is not yet available, the overall outlook for this year’s production has deteriorated. At sub-national level, food shortages in the Terai, affected by drought and floods in 2006, are likely to worsen.