Lesotho + 5 more

South Africa donates 100,000 tons of maize to WFP's regional emergency operation

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JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) expressed immense gratitude in response to today's extremely generous donation of almost US$20 million (ZAR170 million) by the Republic of South Africa to the agency's emergency food operation for southern Africa.
The funds will be used by WFP to purchase 100,000 metric tons of maize in South Africa for distribution to millions of vulnerable people across the region. This contribution is critical to ensure a steady flow of food aid supplies to more than 15 million people, who are in need of assistance in the six affected countries.

"This enormous donation comes at a crucial time for WFP's operations in southern Africa and will undoubtedly help millions of men, women and children cope with food shortages in the months ahead - the most acute period of hunger until the harvest arrives in April/May," said James T. Morris, WFP Executive Director. "It is also encouraging to see South Africa taking a lead role in helping to combat the severe food crisis that is wreaking havoc across the region."

Today's announcement follows President Thabo Mbeki's pledge last year that South Africa would do all it could to help alleviate the current humanitarian crisis in the sub-region. The donation makes South Africa the fifth largest contributor to WFP's emergency operation, after the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Japan.

Already the South African government has greatly aided WFP operations by facilitating the milling of maize in South Africa for distribution in Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Last year, WFP appealed for US$507 million dollars to provide almost one million tons of food aid to millions of vulnerable people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Following today's South African donation, the agency has now received confirmed contributions amounting to 85 percent of its total tonnage requirements.

To find out more about growing hunger in Africa and the global campaign to assist more than 38 million people across the continent, go to WFP's "Africa Hunger Alert" webpage. Videos and photos are also available: www.wfp.org/AfricaHungerAlert.

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:

Mike Huggins, Public Affairs Officer, WFP Johannesburg, Tel. +27-11-5171655, Cell. + 27-83-291 3750
Richard Lee, Public Affairs Officer, WFP Johannesburg, Tel. +27-11-5171686, Cell. +27-83-4601787
Jennifer Abrahamson, Public Affairs Officer, WFP Johannesburg, Tel. +27-11-517 1656, Cell. +27-83-3004954