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PIA Press Release

WFP supplies food aid to 42,000 displaced by Jolo fighting

by Aveen Acua-Gulo

MANILA (19 April) -- The United Nations World Food Programme said today it will provide 85 metric tons of rice (1700 bags) to assist more than 42,000 people displaced by recent conflict on the troubled island of Jolo in Sulu Province in the Philippines.

Three days of clashes in the past week between Philippine troops and the Moro National Liberation Front on Jolo have resulted in 12 deaths and drove some 8,500 families from their homes in seven municipalities of Sulu.

We hope this support for hungry families will help stabilize the situation in Sulu, said Valerie Guarnieri, WFP Country Director in the Philippines. The province is one of the most conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, and the World Food Programme will provide assistance to these families in their time of need.

WFP is providing the food aid in response to a request from the Provincial Governor of Sulu and in cooperation with the Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. WFP staff will travel to Sulu to plan and oversee the distribution.

Despite a 1996 peace accord between the Government and the MNLF, there have been occasional outbreaks of fighting. In March, WFP provided 25 metric tons rice (500 bags) to 6,000 displaced people in Sulu, who have since returned to their homes.

While the relief programme in Sulu involves the direct distribution of free food to displaced families, ongoing WFP-supported activities in Maguindanao, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur Provinces of Mindanao also use food to increase school attendance, repair damaged infrastructure, provide nutritional support for mothers and children and promote peace.

Major donors to WFPs emergency assistance programme for people affected by the conflict in Mindanao include: Multilateral funds (US$3.9 million); Japan (US$2.4 million) Australia (US$1.4 million) and Germany (US$985,000). (WFP/Philippines) [top]

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