Lesotho + 4 more

Major shipment of U.S. food arrives for Southern Africa crisis

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NAIROBI - The UN World Food Programme warmly welcomed the arrival over the weekend of a major food ship into the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, containing 33,000 metric tons of relief food donated by the United States Government to help feed millions of people facing food shortages across Southern Africa.
The U.S. chartered vessel "Liberty Glory" started offloading the urgently-needed relief food, which was quickly transferred onto trucks and rail wagons destined for Malawi and Zambia. After Tanzania, the ship will set sail for Maputo to deliver the remaining 9,890 tons of food for drought-hit Mozambique.

"The rapid arrival of such a large food shipment will greatly help millions of families suffering from severe hunger in southern Africa," said Judith Lewis, WFP Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. "We urgently appeal to other donor nations to provide assistance and help avert a major humanitarian crisis."

This latest shipment of food, valued at US$13.3 million, brings the total U.S. contribution to WFP for current relief operations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho and Mozambique, to US$36.6 million or 80,000 tons of food. The U.S. is also finalizing several other large contributions to the region.

Joint inter-agency assessment teams are now completing their missions through the six countries hardest-hit by cumulative years of natural disaster and economic crises, the worst the region has seen in at least a decade. The teams will determine how many people, and where, will require food aid over the year ahead.

Given the gravity of the situation that has unfolded in previous weeks, the number of people in need and food tonnage needed is expected to soar after teams complete assessments in the region.

In addition to assessing food needs in the region, WFP logisticians have been conducting detailed surveys of the region's logistics corridors and are making recommendations for cargo prioritization, coordination, and utilization of the best routes.

"Massive amounts of food aid and other cargo are expected to arrive in the months ahead," said Lewis, "therefore every effort needs to be made to avoid logistics bottlenecks on commercial routes."

Aboard the Liberty Glory are 16,940 tons of maize, beans and vegetable oil for Malawi, valued at US$ 7.2 million and 8,500 tons for Zambia, worth US$ 2.3 million. Trucks take four to five days to be delivered to Malawi from Dar es Salaam.

Once finished discharging in Dar es Salaam, the Liberty Glory will arrive in Maputo this Saturday to deliver the last consignment of U.S. food aid for Mozambique, worth US$ 3.8 million, which will travel by truck to drought affected areas of the country.

Other donors who have contributed so far to the southern crisis are: EC-EuropeAid (US$ 5.9 million), United Kingdom ($5 million), Germany ($4.2 million), Japan ($3.1 million), Australia ($1.1 million), Unicef ($949,000), Sweden multilateral (915,000), Canada ($780,000), Finland ($675,000), Switzerland ($597,000), Netherlands ($514,000), South Africa ($43,000).

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

Trevor Rowe, WFP Chief Spokesperson, Tel. +39-06-6513-2602
Brenda Barton, WFP Regional Information Officer, Tel +254-2-622594/733 528912
Christiane Berthiaume, Public Affairs Officer, WFP/Geneva, Tel.+41-22-9178564
Abby Spring, Public Affairs Officer, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-917 3029325