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UN Agency Kicks Off A New Food Operation

UN Agency Kicks Off Food Operation Ahead Of Kyrgyzstan’s Brutal Winter

New York, Nov 25 2008 10:10AM

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it is launching an emergency operation to help 580,000 vulnerable people this winter in Kyrgyzstan, where many families are struggling as a result of high food prices and the global economic slowdown.

“Winter is a brutal time in Kyrgyzstan. We will be providing food to those who are unable to meet their basic food needs due to the past year’s high food and fuel prices,” said Daly Belgasmi, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Kyrgyzstan, like many other countries around the world, has been impacted by the surge in food prices, which have left many people struggling to feed their families. The price of wheat, for example, has risen by more than 20 per cent and fuel costs have gone up by almost one quarter since the beginning of the year.

At the same time, remittances from Kyrgyz working abroad – which can significantly contribute to poor households – have decreased, owing to the current economic slowdown.

Over the course of 2008, Kyrgyzstan has also been hit with two droughts, a sequence of locust infestations, hailstorms and spring frosts, all of which have caused serious damage to the country’s agricultural sector.

The impact of all of these factors has meant that the poorest are eating less food with less nutritional value, according to Zlatan Milisic, WFP Country Director in neighbouring Tajikistan, who will oversee the emergency operation. Many people are also selling their animals and other family assets.

A WFP assessment conducted last month found that one out of every five households is at high nutritional and health risk. The agency’s $8.4 million emergency operation will provide beneficiaries with a ration of wheat flour and oil to help families meet some of their daily nutritional requirements.

“We recognise the severity of the situation and are moving fast to meet their needs,” said Mr. Milisic.

ENDS

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