YOKOHAMA - The Government of Japan confirmed today a contribution of US$ 1.4 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help feed the hungry poor in Myanmar, Colombia, and Eritrea.
"These three countries do not make headlines often in Japan," said Mihoko Tamamura, Director of WFP Office in Japan. "We very much welcome the support from Japan to these forgotten emergencies which are out of the limelight."
In Colombia, the number of internally displaced people grows with continued violence and insecurity, the humanitarian situation of the displaced continues to deteriorate. A joint needs assessment in 2004 by WFP and the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded that some 400,000 displaced people were unable to access sufficient food of adequate quality. As a result, WFP has just launched a two-year programme to assist some 500,000 people per year, at a total cost of US$ 40.2 million. The allocation of US$ 500,000 by the Japanese government is the first contribution to the new assistance programme in Colombia.
In Myanmar, as a result of the ban of the production of opium by the government, ex-poppy farmers in the north-eastern part of the country lost their cash income and are struggling hard to survive. Since September 2003 WFP has been assisting impoverished farmers and agricultural workers without alternative crops in Northern Shan State. The Government of Japan has allocated US$ 500,000 for the purchase of rice and fortified biscuits. WFP, on a pilot basis, will purchase fortified biscuits made of buckwheat produced under the Japan-supported project in the same district. This is the second contribution after its US$ 300,000 donation to Myanmar confirmed in April 2004.
The food security situation in Eritrea has been seriously hampered by recurrent droughts, economic downturn and the aftermath of a border conflict with Ethiopia. The Japanese government has allocated US$ 400,000 to WFP's programme to help feed almost one million war and drought-affected people in the country.
The breakdown of the allocation of the US$ 1.4 million Japanese aid package is as follows:
Colombia US$ 500,000
Myanmar US$ 500,000
Eritrea US$ 400,000
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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