Myanmar: Restrictions on food movements hamper WFP operations

Published on 28 September 2007

WFP expressed growing concern that the current unrest in Myanmar could impede efforts to feed some 500,000 people. As a result of the disturbances, the authorities have placed restrictions on the movement of food.

WFP has expressed growing concern that the current unrest in Myanmar could impede efforts to feed some 500,000 people. As a result of the disturbances, the authorities have placed

We have to protect the most vulnerable people in the country
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran speaking from New York

restrictions on the movement of food.

“We appeal to the authorities for access to all parts of the country ,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran speaking from New York.

“We have to protect the most vulnerable people in the country,” she said, adding that the hungry are primarily young children, as well as HIV/AIDS and TB patients who desperately need assistance .

Protests

Growing numbers of demonstrators have been joining civil protests led by Buddhist monks in Myanmar for 11 consecutive days.

While the unrest has been centred in the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay, the impact of the stand-off with the Government and the response of the authorities are being felt elsewhere including areas where WFP is supporting vulnerable communities with food assistance.

The local authorities in Mandalay have stopped all movements of food commodities out of the Division. This will affect WFP operations in northern Shan and the Central Dry Zone which all depend on food deliveries from Mandalay.

Impact on food movement

Disturbances in Sittwe have also had an impact on the movement of food from the port town to WFP operational areas in north Rakhine State.

Over three years, WFP plans to reach a total of 1,600,000 vulnerable people at a total cost of US$51.7 million.

The food basket consists of rice, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and high-protein blended food. WFP operates in Myanmar in collaboration with 22 UN and NGO cooperating partners. Its operations rely on the Government to facilitate the movement of food and personnel.

WFP’s beneficiaries in Myanmar include HIV/AIDS and TB patients under treatment, primary school children in marginalized areas of the country as well as communities in former poppy farming areas.

A programme supporting the nutritional status of mothers and children addresses acute malnutrition rates that prevail in several operational areas.

Shortfall

Due to current limited funding, WFP will face food shortfalls in November that will reduce planned assistance to primary school students and vulnerable families.

To date WFP has received US$12.5 million representing 24 percent of total needs. WFP food support is critical to sustain lives and livelihoods in its operational areas and without support many will be forced to borrow for food.

If the current shortfalls are not covered, it is to be expected that vulnerable families will face acute food shortages in an environment of rapidly escalating food prices.

Ongoing financial support is critical to implement planned food for work and food for training activities during the post-monsoon season.