The first consignment of emergency food assistance, part of a total donation valued at US$14 million, was handed over to the Government of Sri Lanka by United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake at a function held today at the Government warehouse complex at Orugodawatte.
Ambassador Blake handed over 17,500 tons of mixed food,
This donation will help alleviate suffering and food insecurity for those in need in the north and east of Sri Lanka
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake
valued at US$5 million to Mr. W.K. K. Kumarasiri, Secretary, Ministry of Nation Building & Estate Infrastructure Development.
Also attending the ceremony was WFP Deputy Country Director Mr. Jean-Yves Lequime. WFP will distribute the commodities in collaboration with the Ministry to the conflict affected people in the country.
This will be followed by another shipment later in the year valued at an additional US$9 million for a total of US$14 million in food assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We are not here to make a political statement about the Sri Lankan conflict,” Ambassador Blake said at the handover ceremony. “This is food for people, enough to benefit nearly a million Sri Lankans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. This donation will help alleviate suffering and food insecurity for those in need in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
The United States will continue to assist the Government of Sri Lanka and partners such as WFP to help meet the food security needs of the conflict displaced as needed.”
Food for peace
The food has been made available for WFP’s operations through the Food for Peace programme administered by USAID. USAID’s other programmes in Sri Lanka include democracy and governance; humanitarian assistance; economic growth; and tsunami reconstruction.
Through Food for Peace, the U.S. government ranks fourth among individual donors to the WFP in Sri Lanka.
USAID’s most recent contribution to WFP was US$300,000 to improve logistics for WFP operations in Sri Lanka. “We are pleased by this kind gesture from the American people who have donated this food to the vulnerable people in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
This donation will further bolster the long standing relationship between USA and WFP which has provided consistent and sustained support for WFP programmes in Sri Lanka” said Jean-Yves Lequime, Deputy Country Director, WFP Sri Lanka.
Food for Peace was established by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and has assisted more than three billion people in 150 countries since its inception 54 years ago.
WFP assisted 1.3 million vulnerable people in Sri Lanka with food during 2006, including emergency relief assistance to about 300,000 people newly displaced by the conflict. In 2007, WFP is providing food aid to almost 75 percent of the displaced people in the country.