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Japan Provides USD23 Million To 8 Nations Via WFP

Exchange of notes on grant aid (food aid) to 8 countries including Timor-Leste through WFP

The Government of Japan has decided to extend grant aid (food aid) totaling 2.88 billion yen through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to the following eight countries where there are vulnerable groups (including internally displaced persons, women and children) facing chronic food shortage caused by internal conflicts, poverty and other factors.

Notes to this effect were exchanged on December 18 (Tue) (local time: same day) between Mr. Yuji Nakamura, Japanese Ambassador to Italy, and Mr. Jean-Jacques Graisse, Senior Deputy Executive Director of the WFP.

The breakdown of the aid is as follows:

* Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (140 million yen)

* Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (500 million yen)

* Republic of Uganda (470 million yen)

* Republic of Guinea-Bissau (240 million yen)

* Republic of Kenya (600 million yen)

* Republic of Congo (290 million yen)

* Somali Democratic Republic (300 million yen)

* Central African Republic (340 million yen)

(1) The recent lack of rainfall and other factors have been having a great influence on grain production in Timor-Leste. More than one third of the population is suffering chronic food shortage and about a half of the children of five years old or younger are suffering chronic malnutrition.

(2) Major causes of the food shortage in Sri Lanka include not only influences of droughts and floods but also the Indian Ocean tsunami and ethnic conflicts. In particular, the conflict between the anti-government forces demanding an independence of the north and east parts of the country and the government forces is causing serious food shortage in conflict areas. In those areas, 40 percent of the children of five years old or younger are under-weight and 25 percent have stunted growth. The conflicts are also causing a large number of displaced persons.

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(3) In northern Uganda, a conflict between an anti-government force ("Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)") and the government force that has lasted for about 20 years has destroyed almost all of the industrial infrastructure and caused a decrease in the country's agricultural production. Although peace talks are continuing between the two parties, many internally displaced persons in 266 refugee camps are still unable to return home for security reasons.

(4) Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest countries in the world and ranked the 173rd of the 177 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is suffering low-level investment from overseas because of the unstable political situation caused by frequent armed uprisings and other factors. Some 35 percent of the country's households are suffering food shortage. In agricultural areas, in particular, the number of people suffering acute malnutrition and the infant death rate rise in the agricultural off season.

(5) In Kenya, the decrease of rainfall since 2003 has been causing great damage in the agricultural and stock farming industry in the east and north parts of the country. Farmers living in these regions have sold their agricultural equipment and stock of seeds and are depending on livelihood support. The rate of people suffering serious malnutrition in this country is the worst in the world.

(6) Congo is suffering increasing impoverishment because of the civil war that lasted for seven years from 1997, and which also caused an increase in the rates of malnutrition and HIV infection. The country's agricultural production dropped significantly. One of every four children of five years old or younger is suffering stunted growth and the infant death rate is over 10 percent. As many as 65 percent of children and 60 to 70 percent of pregnant women suffer from anemia.

(7) In Somalia, civil war has been continuing since 1991. The conflict from March to April of this year, which is said to be the worst ever, caused many deaths and 300 to 400 thousand internally displaced persons (more than one third of the capital's population). As many as 1.5 million people have escaped into other countries and two million are displaced internally. In addition, the recent drought is causing a food crisis.

(8) Central African Republic has experienced four coups in the last ten years, which caused civil war that destroyed the country's infrastructure and devastated the land. The deteriorated security situation is hindering the country's economic growth and the food supply is worsening because people have fled from agricultural areas. Ten point seven percent of the adults are infected by HIV (2005), and there are more than 100 thousand AIDS orphans.

The Government of Japan has decided to extend this food aid in response to a request from the WFP from a humanitarian point of view and considering the situation of vulnerable groups in these countries. It is expected that this aid will ease the food shortages in these countries.


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