YANGON (June 19, 2012) — The United Nations World Food Program has expanded distributions of emergency food supplies to thousands of people displaced by inter-communal violence in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State. In a remote region, short of basic infrastructure, WFP moved early to reach those affected and will scale up operations further in the coming days.
WFP has reached more than 66,000 displaced people with emergency food supplies in the past week, delivering rations of rice, beans and cooking oil.
WFP has completed food distributions in the townships of Sittwe, Maungdaw, Buthidang and Rathedaung. In Sittwe, WFP has provided a 2-day ration – in other locations, food rations have been for six days.
WFP has about 2,800 metric tons of food (rice, pulses, oil, salt and a nutritious cereal blend known as Super Cereal) in four warehouses in the region, ready to be distributed to the affected population.
WFP plans to distribute Super Cereal to pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under three years old as part of efforts to protect against malnutrition.
Stocks of pulses and oil, which are relatively low, are to be bolstered by additional supplies WFP is moving to Rakhine State.
The most significant obstacle WFP is currently facing is access, with poor roads and bridges a particular constraint. Some displaced populations can only be reached using small trucks.
At this stage, WFP estimates there are about 90,000 displaced people in need of assistance as a result of the recent clashes. WFP is currently finalizing plans for a three-month food assistance operation that will require additional support from donors.
A team led by the WFP Myanmar Deputy Country Director arrived in Sittwe on Saturday to help scale up the operation there. The team has since traveled to Maungdaw and Buthidaung in order to expand deliveries there. A second team is due to head to Maungdaw tomorrow (Wednesday).
A full assessment mission is being organised which will provide a clearer picture of the extent of needs in the affected area.
WFP Myanmar has operations in Rakhine, Shan, Kachin and Chin States, as well in Magwey Division, targeting about 1.8 million people for food assistance. Programmes include specialised nutrition assistance to mothers and young children, the provision of meals in school, and food and cash for work projects designed to create or repair infrastructure for the benefit of entire communities.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.
WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/rss.