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WFP Urges Greater Commitment to West Africa


The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) is calling on the international community to increase efforts to help the people of West Africa. The World Food Program says peace and stability in the region could be compromised without a greater commitment.

The World Food Program says only 10 percent of resources needed this year and next to rebuild the lives of people in West Africa have been committed. It says further progress in the area is impossible if the people lack basic food, health assistance, and shelter.

The organization has said it requires $155 million for 2005 and 2006 for its programs covering Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. It is concerned that a lack of resources could have dramatic implications for stability in the area.

Since the end of major hostilities in the region, the World Food Program has been moving away from providing emergency distribution in favor of food aid designed to help restore self-sufficiency. It is also running programs such as school feeding, adult literacy, and training to help people gain the skills and means to secure their future.

WFP Chief of Staff Michael Stayton, who is visiting Liberia, says that with stability slowly returning to the region, it is vital that this opportunity is not missed.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people and Liberian refugees are returning to their communities. But the World Food Program has been forced to cut rations due to lack of funds. Mr. Stayton says $25 million is needed by May for its operations in Liberia this year.

The World Food Program says continuing food shortages in camps could lead to civil unrest. In Guinea, rations to refugees have had to be cut by a quarter. No return to the normal ration is planned until additional resources become available.

In Sierra Leone, the World Food Program says that help from the international community has led to considerable progress being made toward peace since 1999. But the funding shortfalls have led to the suspension of food for work and food for training activities.

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