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WFP Food Aid Flights Arrive Yangon Morning 8 May

Food aid flights set off for cyclone-hit Myanmar

Washington DC, 7 May 2008 - The World Food Programme has sent four aircraft loaded with critically needed food aid and other relief items for thousands of people struck by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

Thousands of people will start getting ready-to-eat high energy biscuits as early as tomorrow morning.

'Time is of the essence and we are already reaching storm victims with food. We are mobilising all possible resources to save lives given the massive disruption in food, water, and shelter caused by this storm,' said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, speaking from Washington D.C.

High Energy Biscuits

A total of 45 metric tons of high energy biscuits (HEBs) is expected to arrive on three flights of WFP-chartered aircraft at Yangon airport early Thursday morning - the first UN flights to arrive in the city.

WFP will oversee the unloading of the biscuits, and together with NGO partners, will quickly transport the cargo to the hardest hit regions along the country's southern coast.

'It is critical that we reach the hungry and homeless in Myanmar with ready-to-eat food as soon as possible to help them survive this horrific disaster,' said Sheeran.

'Food and clean water are the first steps toward helping the people of Myanmar get back on their feet and rebuild their lives,' she said.

Supplies

The supplies will help augment stocks of WFP food already in-country when the crisis began.

More deliveries of food to affected communities in Myanmar continued today, with a total of 90 tons of rice distributed to-date by WFP and NGO partners in Ayeyarwaddy Division townships and the vicinity of the country's largest city, Yangon.

Urgent assessment missions by WFP and other agencies to the most affected townships also continued today.

Growing needs

The need for food - especially products like HEBs which can be easily delivered and consumed - is growing, as are water, sanitation, and medical needs. The death toll and number of homeless are rising each day.

In other developments, the reluctance of the Government of Myanmar to lift the restriction on the movement of commodities and international staff has not changed significantly. WFP and other UN agencies are awaiting word on the granting of visas for teams of disaster response workers.

Background

Two of the aircraft were loaded with a total of 25 tons of HEBs from WFP stocks in Dhaka Bangladesh while a third originated in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, carrying 20 tons of HEBs and portable Wiikhall storage tents and other critically needed disaster response supplies.

A fourth aircraft carrying 25 metric tonnes of UN emergency response equipment, paid for by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, left the UN Humanitarian Depot in Brindisi, Italy on 7 May, and is scheduled to arrive in Yangon also on the morning of 8 May.

ENDS

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