February 23, 2005

Indirectly hit by tsunami

Funds for the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) to feed Angolans as they put their lives back together after the war have dried up following the success of the international appeals for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.
On 14 February the WFP warned "with 22 million people in Africa desperately short of food, the WFP called today for the world to respond to the continent's hunger with the same commitment and compassion shown recently towards the survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami".
Donations to WFP's operations in Africa dropped by 21 percent in January to $24 million compared to $29 million in the first month of 2004.
According to WFP Executive Director James Morris, "By responding so vigorously to the tsunami, the world admirably demonstrated how much it cares for millions of people facing extraordinary suffering. The challenge we now face is to ensure that a 'tsunami effect' does not ripple across Africa, drawing funds away from humanitarian operations there and adding Sudanese, Angolan and Liberian victims to its toll. I'm sure that donors to the tsunami disaster will not allow their generosity to be at the expense of hungry people in Africa, however far from the global spotlight they are".
The $24 million received in January for Africa must feed 22 million people in 22 countries. In Angola many recipients are on half rations because international donors have not supported the WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery programme, which is still $40 million off target, equivalent to 60,000 tonnes of food for distribution to returnees throughout 2005.
Although there have so far been no cuts in rations to extremely vulnerable people, numbering 60,000 people such as orphans or the elderly, other categories of people have had their rations cut by half, with the prospect of further cuts by the beginning of April unless there are more donations soon.
In total WFP feeds a million people in Angola, and will continue until it begins to phase out its programme with the next harvest from May onwards.
Last year's repatriation programme run by UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration fell well short of its target of bringing 170,000 Angolans home, as it only managed to bring back 52,000 refugees. This year it plans to complete the repatriation programme, returning a further 54,000 refugees living in neighbouring countries, beginning in March. However, central to the programme is the provision by the WFP of food aid for returnees for two harvests, which means that funds and donations will be needed until at least 2007. (Angola Peace Monitor, London)

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