AS PM KOIZUMI VISITS TSUNAMI SITES IN ACEH, WFP CHIEF HAILS JAPAN'S ‘EXEMPLARY' SUPPORT
BANDA ACEH - As Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi toured this disaster-hit zone of Indonesia today to observe Japan's humanitarian aid at work, the United Nations World Food Programme hailed his country's generous support of the food aid agency's tsunami emergency operation.
Japan has made a US$60 million donation to WFP's Indian Ocean tsunami emergency operation, the largest single contribution by a donor government to the agency's humanitarian response. As part of his tour, Koizumi visited a camp for homeless survivors in the capital of Aceh province, where he saw a WFP food distribution.
In Indonesia, the Japanese contribution has, up to now, taken the form of 12,500 metric tons of rice, enough to feed almost 800,000 hungry people for one month. The donation will continue to be applied to WFP's recovery activities in northern Sumatra, which bore the brunt of the natural disaster.
"Japan has made a truly outstanding contribution to the tsunami crisis," said WFP Executive Director James Morris. "The scale of Japan's generosity and the swiftness of its response stand as a model to the entire international community."
Noting that Japan's donation represents more than one-fifth of WFP's total emergency budget for the tsunami of US$274.5 million, Morris said: "On behalf of WFP and the people who need our help, I want to thank the government and the people of Japan for coming forward in such an exemplary fashion."
During the WFP food distribution in the village of Lampung in Banda Aceh, a displaced Acehnese woman who lost her son in the 26 December tsunami thanked Koizumi for Japan's help on behalf of her local community and a 10-year-old girl survivor read a poem about the disaster and how it affected her. In return, Koizumi handed a bag of rice donated by Japan to the woman, and a pack of high-energy biscuits to the girl.
At present, WFP is feeding 720,000 people in Indonesia, including more than 22,000 people on the islands of Nias and Simeulue in the wake of a massive undersea earthquake on 28 March. They are getting monthly rations of rice, fortified noodles and biscuits, canned fish and vegetable oil. Overall in the Indian Ocean region, WFP is giving food to 1.9 million victims.
In the recovery phase of the tsunami emergency operation, WFP will be giving nutritious food supplements, such as the biscuits and noodles, to the most vulnerable people - 350,000 primary school children, 130,000 children under five years of age, and 55,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers. These food supplements supply these women and children with nutritional support at a time in their lives when they need it most.
As the first step in the recovery phase, WFP launched school feeding programmes in Aceh both for tsunami survivors and children who were not affected by the disaster. The fortified biscuits or noodles they eat every day in school boost their health and enhances their ability to learn.
"Japan's support is an integral part of our emergency response in the tsunami crisis," said Morris. "Their partnership is invaluable to us. Thanks to the Government and people of Japan, we can work to ensure that nobody suffers from hunger or malnutrition in this crisis."
Morris noted that in Sri Lanka, Japan generously allowed WFP to use more than 2,400 metric tons of food for the tsunami emergency response on 27 December, the day after the tsunami hit the region. The food was part of a consignment of more than 4,600 metric tons originally scheduled to be used in rehabilitation programmes in the former war zones of the north and east of the country. "WFP was able to respond immediately to the tsunami crisis in Sri Lanka because of the humanitarian commitment of the Japanese people," said Morris.
Morris also paid tribute to the military aircraft which Japan dispatched to Aceh to be used in the delivery of humanitarian aid, including WFP food aid. "Once again, Japan demonstrated that wherever there is a need and they can assist, they uniformly do so," said Morris. "This civil-military partnership is a model for future emergencies."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency; each year, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.
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