WFP welcomes arrival of Japanese food assistance to Afghanistan

At a ceremony in Kabul today, the United Nations World Food Programme in Afghanistan, together with senior Government officials, welcomed the arrival of 5,000 tonnes of food purchased with a contribution from the Government of Japan valued at JPY 390 million (around US$ 3.1 million).

“WFP is deeply grateful for Japan’s continued assistance in helping the poor in Afghanistan,” said Rick Corsino, WFP Country Director.  “This donation strengthens WFP efforts to help vulnerable families who have been living as refugees in camps in Pakistan and have recently returned to Afghanistan to start new lives.”  Other recipients of food assistance who will benefit from the Japanese donation include the poorest Afghan families, especially those headed by women and the disabled, and very large households with single-wage earners.

Over 11,500 returning Afghan families have arrived in eastern Afghanistan from Kach Galai and Jalozai camps in Peshawar since last year.  This contribution will provide much needed help for returnees in the eastern region, enabling them to begin new lives in their native country, from which they had fled many years earlier.

“The food is being distributed through programmes that also assist communities by supporting projects aimed at rehabilitating roads and canals, and encouraging people to learn new vocational skills.” said Corsino.

H.E. Mr. Hideo Sato, Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan attended the ceremony on behalf of Japan and expressed his Government’s steadfast commitment to the Afghan people.

The donation, confirmed in July 2007, helps WFP activities, especially in several eastern and central provinces, to proceed without interruption well into the second quarter of the year.

In March, Japan confirmed an additional US$ 5 million donation to WFP. This makes Japan’s total contributions to WFP’s current operations in Afghanistan, which started in January 2006, at US$ 17 million. To continue full operations over the coming six months, WFP needs an additional 43,000 tonnes of food, valued at US$ 28 million.