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WFP to Provide Food to Displaced In Kenya

The World Food Program says it plans to provide through the Kenyan Red Cross urgently needed food for 100,000 people displaced by violence in the Northern Rift Valley. The WFP warns the crisis in Kenya also hampers humanitarian operations throughout the region. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

A World Food Program Spokeswoman, Christiane Berthiaume, tells VOA a WFP team left Nairobi by road on Friday to bring food for 100,000 displaced people to the Kenya Red Cross. She says this food is meant to supplement that which is being provided by the Kenyan government.

She says the government is distributing 1,800 tons of cereals, enough to feed 120,000 people for one month.

She says it is difficult for trucks carrying WFP food to reach areas in western Kenya. She notes virtually all movements of WFP food in Kenya have been frozen for days because of insecurity.

"We have 200 trucks in Mombasa that are loaded with food for 1.5 million people - not only for Kenya, but also for the region," said Berthiaume. "And, some are blocked in Mombasa right now."

Mombasa is a very important port of entry. Berthiaume says the food which is unloaded there assists well over 1.5 million needy people in Kenya, Uganda, southern Sudan, Somalia and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

"It is very, very difficult to reach them right now by land," said Berthiaume. "Some of the food that we have received in Mombasa will go to Somalia by the sea. But, for the other ones, we really need to get those trucks underway to the neighboring countries as well as inside Kenya."

Berthiaume says dozens of trucks loaded with WFP food are stranded in Nairobi, in Mombasa and in Eldoret, a town in the Rift Valley. Some of those trucks, she says were stranded because of insecurity on main roads and checkpoints set up by vigilantes in western Kenya.

She says WFP is holding urgent talks with the government to resolve this issue and get the aid to those who need it in Kenya and elsewhere.