No widespread hunger in Iraq: World Food Programme
BAGHDAD: There is no widespread hunger in Iraq, the executive director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) said here on Sunday.
“There is no widespread hunger across the country. Most families have enough food for three to five weeks,” James Morris told reporters.
“The distribution worked well” under the ousted regime of president Saddam Hussein, he said. The regime was “very generous over the years.”
Saddam’s government, deposed by US-led forces on April 9, had established a system of food distribution to the population whereby citizens had ration cards within the framework of the UN “oil-for-food” program.
Morris said the WFP, which has 200 staffers in Iraq, would start on June 1 distributing 480,000 metric tons of food aid a month across the country through 44,000 distribution points already in place.
The UN organization has planned a six-month distribution program, after which Iraqi authorities are due to take over. A total of around 2.5 million metric tons of food will be distributed at a cost of 1.85 billion dollars, Morris said.
“It will be a six-month program. By the end of it the ministry of trade will be back on its feet,” said Morris, who met officials of the US-led coalition and of the Iraqi trade ministry during his visit here.
Morris said security was the main problem facing WFP operations, notably the security of warehouses, convoys and offices.
He added that aid was reaching Iraq chiefly via Iran, Syria and Jordan.
He said there were currently 30 donor countries, led by the United States, Britain, Japan and Canada.
“France is not helping” in Iraq, he said in answer to a question, pointing out that France was providing substantial aid in Africa.
The WFP’s representative in Baghdad, Toben Due, estimated malnutrition was affecting some 10 percent of Iraq’s estimated 25 million population. —AFP