The first of four cargo planes loaded with High Energy Biscuits (HEB) for potential Iraqi refugees landed in Kuwait this afternoon. The plane was delivering the first 40 metric tons of a planned 160 tonne HEB consignment.
This food aid will be sufficient to feed 53,000 people for one month.
Packed with protein and nutrients, HEBs are vital in the early days of a refugee's life, offering an instant meal for people who lack cooking facilities and often adequate s upplies of clean water.
Also in Kuwait, a local company has agreed to supply WFP with 10 million slices of bread - enough to feed two million people for one month.
REGIONAL FOOD STOCKS: UPDATES
Jordan: a portable warehouse capable of storing 400 tonnes of food - enough to feed 24,000 people for one month - has arrived in Ruwayshad near the Iraqi border. The warehouse will be assembled today.
Syria: WFP has stockpiled enough basic food rations, including flour, oil and HEBs, to feed some 20,000 potential refugees. The agency is also ready to transport the rations across the border to hungry people inside Iraq, if necessary.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM: UPDATE
Centre / South Iraq: in the 15 governorates where the government has been responsible for food distributions under the UN Oil-for-Food Programme, two-month rations have been handed out each month since July 2002. This was meant to allow households to stockpile food as a safeguard in the event of war.
The rations were available to all Iraqi's in the region, rich and poor, either through a ration card system. Alternatively, they could be purchased at subsidised rates.
However, for several reasons, WFP estimates that February's distribution, supposed to last until July, will only be sufficient to meet the needs of the poorest families until the end of April:
First, the two-month rations were often incomplete because the government was unable to obtain sufficient quantities of pulses, vegetable oil and milk.
In addition, some families have been selling part of their extra rations to pay for other essentials.
Finally, families have reported that their rations have often only covered three-quarters of their monthly food needs.
Warehouses in the region are now believed to be "nearly empty"
Northern Governorates: the situation is worse in the three northern governorates of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.
Dahuk and Erbil only received their full February ration of wheat flour on March 16; on the same day, Sulamaniyah received 92 percent of its wheat flour delivery. The current month's distribution of wheat flour only started last Thursday.
WFP understands that general food distribution under the Oil-for-Food Programme was still working in some parts of northern Iraq on March 21, although stocks are low.
FUNDING: NORWEGIAN DONATION
WFP today welcomes a contribution of US$1.4 million from the Norwegian government. This brings the total funds received to about US$47.3 million.
This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Khaled Mansour - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 22 March 2003, in Amman, Jordan
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