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WFP begins food distribution to Nepali flood victims
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21:18, August 16, 2007

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The World Food Program (WFP) started distribution of food items to victims of flooding in Nepal 's mid-western districts of Banke and Bardiya from Thursday.

Hundreds of flood victims received emergency relief package of rice, oil, lentils and salt on the first day of the distribution, WFP said in a statement.

"Thanks to the quick response from the donor community, and WFP 's excellent working relationship with the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), in two weeks, we have been able to start delivering food to the most flood-affected victims in the Western Terai," said Richard Ragan, WFP Country Representative in Nepal.

So far, the NRCS and a number of other non-governmental organizations have been working to provide "ready to eat" meals and WFP would now begin providing more complete food baskets, Ragan said.

WFP said its initial response to provide 10,000 families ( around 60,000 people) with three months of food rations was based upon the initial needs identified by the NRCS and requested by Nepali government.

"Since Nepali government's initial request, the number of people impacted by the floods across the country has increased to over 400,000 and we are already in the process of appealing to donors for additional funds to cover the increased food needs of the flood victims," stated Ragan.

Over 33 districts saw death and destruction due to flooding after days of incessant rains. Some of the most impacted districts were Mahottari, Dhanusa, Parsa, Siraha and Saptari, Rautahat, Sunsari and Morang across the southern belt of Nepal.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nepal has appealed to agitating groups not to obstruct the delivery of relief materials to the flood victims.

Talking to local leading media group's website nepalnews.com, communication official Adebayo Olowo-Ake said though the agitators had not targeted directly to ICRC vehicles transporting humanitarian relief materials, the regular general strikes have affected the delivery process.

A statement issued by the international humanitarian organization said, "The ICRC calls for humanitarian assistance to be delivered without obstruction. This assistance should be distributed solely on the basis of need, independently of all political, communal and other considerations. Humanitarian actors need unrestricted access to the people in need."

The ICRC said it has been regularly visiting all the affected Terai districts in southern Nepal and has witnessed the latent desire by many to offer assistance to those affected.

"However, humanitarian action is being hampered by high water levels, damaged infrastructure, the calling of general strikes, strikes and other interferences at the local level," it said.

Source: Xinhua

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