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More People In Burma To Benefit From Food Aid 2008

More vulnerable people in Myanmar to benefit from UN food aid in 2008

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will expand its assistance in Myanmar in 2008 after helping 500,000 people in vulnerable communities last year to overcome chronic food shortages.

Overall, the three-year programme plans to reach 1.6 million vulnerable people at a cost of $51.7 million.

"Not only have we helped marginalized communities to overcome the immediate difficulties they experience during the monsoon period, but through creative programming we are helping to reduce the size of the food gap in these areas by improving livelihood opportunities," WFP Country Director Chris Kaye said.

The Government of Myanmar facilitates WFP's work by granting access to several of the most marginalized areas of the country. Many of those supported are from former poppy growing communities in the eastern border areas of the country.

Bringing food to people in these areas is particularly challenging due to the remoteness and sometimes mountainous terrain. It is also constrained by the complex clearance system imposed by the authorities which controls the movement of goods and commodities from region to another.

But in one area in North Rakhine State (NRS) recently, the authorities have eased procedures which will help speed up the movement of food to where it is needed most. "The easing of bureaucratic procedures in NRS by the Area Commander is an initiative we hope will be replicated elsewhere," Mr. Kaye said. "It will certainly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations."

WFP expects to expand its operations in 2008 to impoverished communities in eastern Kachin. A critical element is Government agreement for WFP to partner with a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Mr. Kaye said discussions had been positive. "I am confident that we will be able to deliver food assistance in these areas in early 2008 providing we continue to receive donor support," he added.

Working with 22 UN and NGO partners, WFP provides food to vulnerable people in Myanmar, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients and schoolchildren in marginalized areas, supplying food baskets consisting of rice, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and high-protein blended food. WFP operations in Myanmar rely on the Government to facilitate the movement of food and personnel.


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