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Chechens And Azeris Faced Food Aid Cutoff

Chechens And Azeris Faced Food Aid Cutoff, Warns UN Special Rapporteur On Food

New York, Oct 12 2006 3:00PM

Roughly 250,000 Chechens face a complete cut off of international food aid and 144,000 Azerbaijanis drastic food aid reduction by the end of the month unless donors come up with more money, a United Nations food expert warned today.

Sputtering international funding for these humanitarian operations, handled by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), has already triggered cut-backs in Chechens receiving assistance, and rations for Azerbaijanis, said Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

In a statement he called on UN member states to “immediately honour their legal obligations” to respond quickly to emergency food situations.

The warning echoes an urgent WFP appeal in July when it had managed to raised just 28 per cent of the $22 million it needs to feed 250,000 Chechens in 2006.
“From [the end of] October, we will have absolutely nothing left to distribute,” said Koryun Alaverdyan, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in the Russian Federation at the time. “The people we seek to assist are the poorest survivors of the Chechen conflict.”
Insufficient donations have already forced the agency to cut the number of displaced Chechens being assisted in Ingushetia from 27,000 to 16,000 and only wheat flour has been provided since the beginning of the year, rather than the standard ration which also included vegetable oil, sugar and salt.
“Without outside help, these people will have to fend for themselves, which means resorting to measures such as selling what meagre assets they have left,” said Mr. Alaverdyan. “That would make it even more difficult for them to start rebuilding their lives.”
Unsteady funding in WFP’s current $15.7 million programme for Azerbaijan has already caused ration cuts, in January and May, and “if no contributions are made urgently, food rations might need to be reduced further,” warned Mr. Ziegler.

The present two-year assistance package, is likely to be WFP’s final food assistance operation in the country even though a food security and nutrition assessment – the first of its kind in Azerbaijan – last year found that nearly 300,000 of the 1 million Azerbaijanis displaced by the conflict with Armenia would continue to rely on food aid for the foreseeable future.
Only 40 per cent of the households covered by the survey have access to agricultural land and in all instances most of the produce grown is for family subsistence, the study found.

WFP has provided over $100 million in food assistance to Azerbaijan in the past dozen years and more than $80 million to those effected by the fighting that started in 2000 in Chechnya.

Russia made its first WFP donation in 2003 and to date has donated $22 million worth of food that has gone to Angola, Tajikistan, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid and serve in a personal capacity, reporting to the UN Human Rights Council.

Ends

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