Feeding IDPs:WFP, INGOs ease govt. burden

The World Food Programme (WFP) and about a dozen other INGO/NGOs are helping the government provide three meals a day to nearly 300,000 internally displaced persons accommodated at welfare centres in the north.

Well informed sources told The Island that the WFP with the help of international donors had taken the responsibility to supply rice, flour, sugar, dhal, salt and vegetable oil to welfare centres managed by the Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Ministry. Sources said though the government had provided cooked meals to people reaching the government-held area initially, the WFP subsequently stepped-in with food aid.

Responding to our queries, sources said that WFP and a consortium of INGO/NGOs had contributed immensely to Sri Lanka’s overall plan to look after the displaced. Sources said though the government provided health facilities, water and electricity to welfare camps, the burden of providing food had been taken by the WFP.

Paulette Jones, Donor Relations Officer, WFP, yesterday told The Island a recent USD 7.4 million (Rs. 833 million) donation received from the government of Japan would be utilized to procure rice (6,300 metric tons) and canned fish (130 metric tons) for the displaced.

Adnan Khan, Country Director, WFP, Sri Lanka, at the handing over of the consignment of rice and canned fish on July 14 said that canned fish would be an additional source of protein for the IDPs. He said that the WFP needs a further USD 15.2 million (Rs. 1750 million) soon to ensure that there wouldn’t be any problems next month. "We are seeking funds from the international community to avoid pipeline breaks in August," the WFP quoted Khan as saying in a press release.

Sources said that the government was in the process of settling the claims of businessmen who had provided cooked meals to the IDPs before the WFP and several other INGO/NGOs stepped-in with their assistance. Sources said that some politicians who had toured Vavuniya had caused unnecessary problems by promising them Rs. 130 for providing three meals a day per person whereas the government provided only Rs. 100. Sources said that the Cabinet had rejected a proposal to increase the amount.

The government of India, too, had provided a range of items, including food to the IDPs, through the ICRC, sources said. Sources added that the WFP had sent large stocks of food items for people living in areas formerly under LTTE control.

Sources said that some of the INGO/NGOs assisting the relief efforts at welfare camps had said that they would shortly run out of funds. Ministerial sources said that they were in touch with them to ensure that there wouldn’t be any breakdown in the supply of essentials.

Accepting the Japanese food assistance worth USD 7.4 million, Basil Rajapaksa, MP, had said that the donation was timely and provide much needed food and commodities for the ongoing emergency programme in the north.

According to the WFP there were approximately 1.2 Sri Lankan beneficiaries of its emergency feeding and recovery programmes.

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