QUITO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today the start of an emergency operation to assist 260,000 vulnerable and food insecure people seriously affected by the earthquake in Ecuador and in desperate need of food and other basic necessities.
The earthquake, the worst in Ecuador’s history, has left more than 600 people dead and over 12,000 injured mostly in coastal areas. According to estimates by government and international agencies, 520,000 Ecuadorians were directly affected by this disaster and require food assistance. The first WFP food supplies reached the stricken area only three days after the earthquake but now the scale of the impact is becoming clearer.
“Due to the earthquake a significant number of people no longer have access to their regular sources of income and food, and this will impact negatively their food security,” said WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Miguel Barreto in Ecuador to coordinate the WFP emergency response with WFP’s Director of Emergencies, Stefano Porretti.
Following a government request, a convoy with WFP emergency food kits reached the city of Portoviejo in Manabí province on 19 April. WFP staff supported distribution of food to the most affected families and hospitals in Manabí, reaching some 50,000 people to date.
Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), managed by WFP, airlifted from its base in Panama on 21 April 40 metric tons of emergency supplies - including water and sanitation equipment, hygiene and kitchen kits and mobile storage units - to support the humanitarian assistance effort in Ecuador. This is part of a WFP Special Operation to support logistics capacities in response to the earthquake. The US$2 million operation has also just been launched.
“WFP plans to scale up to assist a quarter of a million people affected by this disaster, in close coordination with the Government," said Barreto, after visiting the devastated city of Pedernales with Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guillaume Long, and the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Luis Almagro.
“Based on the results of upcoming field assessments, WFP will adapt its plans in coordination with the authorities who are leading this effort, and support the overall government capacity to respond,” he added.
“It is amazing the number of institutions and individuals who are joining efforts to provide humanitarian assistance on the Ecuadorian coast,” said WFP Representative in Ecuador Kyungnan Park. “Volunteers from the government, private sector and civil society have been supporting the loading, unloading and delivery of our food kits to those most in need.”
WFP relies entirely on voluntary funding from governments, companies and private individuals. The cost of the three month operation designed to support the overall government response to the earthquake is US$34 million.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
Alejandro Chicheri, WFP/Panama – currently in Ecuador, Mob. +507 66715355 or +593 9 85571889
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
Gerald Bourke, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646 525 9982