U.S. donates $2 million for Colombia's most vulnerable families

The United States has donated $2 million to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to help hungry and displaced people in Colombia.
In a January 9 press release, the WFP said the U.S. contribution will help assist 375,000 displaced Colombians.

The WFP said the U.S. donation will enable it to continue with mother-child health programs and nutritional recovery activities, and to support preschoolers.

The WFP said its assistance aims "not only to satisfy the immediate food needs of the displaced, but to encourage children to attend school and to provide displaced persons with the necessary food so they can participate in productive and skills-development activities."

Following is the text of the press release:

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World Food Program
Press Release January 9, 2003

The U.N. World Food Program to Continue Helping Displaced Persons in Colombia with New U.S. $2 Million Donation

Bogota - The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced today that it will continue assisting hungry displaced persons in Colombia after receiving a donation of $2 million from the United States.

The U.S. contribution is the first donation to WFP Colombia for its new 3-year, $26-million program to help Colombia's most vulnerable families. WFP plans to assist 375,000 displaced Colombians.

"We are extremely pleased that we can continue our efforts to help families who have fled violence in Colombia," said Els Kocken, WFP Colombia Representative. "We depend on these voluntary donations and can now continue next month with mother-child health care programs, nutritional recovery activities as well as community kitchens and supporting preschoolers. Regretfully many displaced children and mothers need this vital nutritional support more and more."

WFP currently serves 180,600 displaced people in Colombia in more than 120 communities, including the smallest villages and the largest cities. WFP has been assisting displaced persons in Colombia since July 2000 through school feeding programs for children, food-for-work programs for adults and assistance for pregnant and lactating mothers.

The aim of WFP assistance is to not only satisfy the immediate food needs of the displaced, but to encourage children to attend school, and provide displaced persons with the necessary food so that they can participate in productive and skills-development activities.

WFP has been working with vulnerable communities in Colombia since 1969. WFP provides food assistance in Colombia's 13 most conflict-prone provinces.

Other donors to WFP Colombia have been Japan and Switzerland and WFP is actively seeking another $6 million in donor support to assist displaced persons in 2003.

Notable statistics: - 2 million people are displaced in Colombia due to the 40-year conflict, making it one of the countries with the highest number of displaced persons in the world. - Malnutrition in Colombia is more prevalent in rural areas and in the "misery belts" that surround urban areas. - In the displaced population, 21 percent of family members over six years old receive no formal education, 57 percent have no elementary school education and only 21 percent have received secondary education. - According to a May 2001 WFP case study, the daily consumption of calories by displaced persons is well below the recommended average of 2.100 kilocalories. Women-headed households in urban areas are even more vulnerable, consuming fewer calories due to the high cost of covering their basic necessities in an urban setting.

WFP is the United Nations' front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 2002, 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.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: