USAID Provides US$14 million Food Donation through WFP for Conflict -Displaced Sri Lankans
The first consignment of food assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), valued at US$5 million, was handed over to the Government by United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake at a function held on Sep 19th at the government warehouse complex at Orugodawatte. This forms part of a total food donation of US$14 million through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), with another shipment valued at an additional US$9 million set to arrive later in the year.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake hands over a ceremonial sack of lentils to Sri Lanka Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development Secretary W.K.K. Kumarasiri (right) with World Food Programme Country Representative Mohammed Salaheen (center). Photo: USAID/Zack Taylor
Ambassador Blake handed over 17,500 tons of mixed food to Mr. W.K. K. Kumarasiri, Secretary of the Ministry of Nation Building & Estate Infrastructure Development. Also attending the ceremony was WFP Country Director Mr. Mohamed Saleheen. WFP will distribute the commodities in collaboration with the Ministry to the conflict-affected people in the country.
“We are not here to make a political statement about the Sri Lankan conflict,” Ambassador Blake said at the handover ceremony. “This is food for people, enough to benefit nearly a million Sri Lankans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. This donation will help alleviate suffering and food insecurity for those in need in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The United States will continue to assist the Government of Sri Lanka and partners such as the World Food Programme to help meet the food security needs of the conflict-displaced, as needed.”
The food has been made available for WFP through USAID’s ‘Food for Peace’ program. USAID has been a strong supporter of WFP operations in Sri Lanka; in terms of food aid the U.S. Government ranks fourth among individual donors, and they have also recently provided cash contribution of US$300,000 to improve the logistics capacity supporting WFP food aid programs.
“We are grateful for this kind gesture from the American people, who have donated this food to the vulnerable people in the North and East of Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Saleheen “This donation will further bolster the long-standing relationship between WFP and the U.S., which has provided consistent and sustained support for WFP programs in Sri Lanka.”
Food for Peace was established by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and has assisted more than three billion people in 150 countries since its inception 54 years ago. USAID’s other programs in Sri Lanka include democracy and governance; humanitarian assistance; economic growth; and tsunami reconstruction.
WFP assisted 1.3 million vulnerable people in Sri Lanka with food during 2006, including emergency relief assistance to about 300,000 people newly displaced by the conflict. In 2007, WFP is providing food aid to almost 75 percent of the displaced people in the country. [US Embassy, Colombo, Sri Lanka – Press Release]