Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UN food agency to reach out to 9 million Afghans in 2009

Almost 9 million people in Afghanistan will benefit from United Nations food aid initiatives this year, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced today, with over 1.5 million reached in all of the South Asian nation’s provinces last month alone.

The agency plans to provide assistance to 8.8 million Afghans this year through a range of relief and recovery projects.

WFP’s food-for-work scheme has already helped over 500,000 people through irrigation canal, ponds, water channels and roads programmes.

The food-for-education plan seeks to help the Afghan Government to rebuild its education system. To address short-term hunger and boost school attendance, nearly 500,000 children received WFP food in schools, with an additional incentive for female students to encourage them to go to school.

In its efforts to tackle tuberculosis, the agency is urging patients to complete their treatment by providing them with food rations, with over 30,000 Afghans suffering from tuberculosis having received WFP assistance last month.

Every year the agency assists hundreds of thousands who are seriously impacted by droughts, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, and is also helping those affected by soaring food prices.

In a related development, nearly three million Afghan children under the age of five will be protected from polio under the latest United Nations-backed immunization campaign which has kicked off in nearly half of the South Asian nation’s 34 provinces.

The scheme, launched yesterday by the Ministry of Public Health with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), seeks to stop the virus’ circulation within the South Asian nation and to halt its importation from neighbouring nations.

“Today, we call on all anti-government elements to allow the vaccinators’ access to the children of Nad-e-ali and Nawzad districts in Helmand,” said Nilab Mobarez, spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). “These children have the right to be protected from polio.”

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