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WFP Gets Funds Boost To Feed 750K Displaced Iraqis

UN food agency receives funding boost to feed 750,000 displaced Iraqis

27 May 2008 - Thanks to a $40 million funding boost from the Iraqi Government, the United Nations World Food Programme will be able to feed up to 750,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the next six months.

Noting that the Iraqi contribution - the largest the Government has contributed to any UN agency - came "at a crucial time," WFP Iraq Country Director Stefano Porretti said that "the donation shows the Government's commitment to support all Iraqis, particularly those not covered by the Government-run food distribution system.

Iraqi IDPs are not eligible for food rations under that system because they have left the governorate where they are registered.

WFP launched a $133.5 million regional scheme this year to feed 1.2 million Iraqis displaced within their own country and in Syria. As a result of the funds, the Iraqi portion of the programme is now 85 per cent funded, but the Syrian part for 360,000 people still faces a 45 per cent shortfall.

Mr. Porretti said that the agency is considering using some of the cash to purchase food inside Iraq in a bid to curb transport costs and spur the local economy, but this depends on access and security conditions as WFP's ability to operate in Iraq has been severely curtailed.

So far, out of the planned 750,000 beneficiaries, WFP - in collaboration with government and humanitarian partners - has reached nearly 400,000 and is distributing food in 16 of Iraq's 18 governorates.

For the past several days, a ceasefire in Sadr City in Baghdad has generally been holding, and Mr. Porretti said that if this security improvement was reflected across Iraq, the Government's recent funding contribution to WFP would allow the agency to reach all beneficiaries in the next five to six months.

ENDS

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