Afghanistan

Afghanistan, India and WFP inaugurate nutrient-rich biscuits for 1 million schoolchildren

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KABUL- At schools in four cities across Afghanistan, the United Nations World Food Programme today celebrated the distribution nation-wide of a gift from the people and Government of India to the schoolchildren of Afghanistan: nearly 10,000 tons of fortified high-energy biscuits.
The biscuits, to be distributed to one million children in Afghanistan's schools, are the first humanitarian donation by the Government of India through WFP. The biscuits, made in India from wheat flour fortified with micronutrients, give children a nutritional boost and enhance their ability to learn.

"Afghanistan welcomes this special gift to our young generation," said President Hamid Karzai, head of the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan, who presided over the launch in the capital city of Kabul. "India could not make a more important investment in Afghanistan than this, by assisting our children and strengthening our education system."

President Karzai and the Afghan Education Minister, Mr. Younis Qanooni, attended the celebration in Kabul along with India's ambassador to the country, Mr. Vivek Katju, WFP Deputy Country Director Susana Rico and diplomats and government officials of both Afghanistan and India.

Satellite launches were simultaneously held in the cities of Jalalabad, Herat and Kandahar, where consular officials representing the Government of India participated in the mid-morning "school feeding" that WFP runs in more than 400 schools across the country.

The Indian Ambassador said: "It is through education that a country lays the foundation for its future growth and prosperity. India is very pleased to have made this contribution to the Food for Education programme in Afghanistan."

The four ceremonies were highlighted by a demonstration by the schoolchildren of kite-flying, with kites made for the inauguration in the colours of the Indian flag. Kite-flying, banned in Afghanistan under the Taleban, is the country's national sport but frequently out of reach to children in the deprived, rural areas where WFP works.

Rico emphasised that the gift of biscuits is especially welcome because of the very high priority WFP gives to school feeding.

"We know from decades of experience that the most effective way for poor children to change their lives is by learning to read and write," Rico said. "We are grateful to the Government of India for supporting the opportunity for children to learn -- and thereby build a better future for Afghanistan."

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2001, WFP fed more than 77 million people in 82 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.

For more information please contact:

Alejandro Chicheri
Public Affairs Officer
WFP Afghanistan
Tel.: +93-20-2100216/7,
Cell.: +93-70-278593
E-mail: alejandro.chicheri@wfp.org

Heather Hill
Regional Public Affairs Officer
WFP Asia
Tel.: +66-2-6554115 ext. 2020
Cell.: +66-1-7019208
E-mail: heather.hill@wfp.org