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PIA Press Release

Japan's aid provides needed support to relief efforts

Manila (13 October) -- The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US$4.5 million donation from the Government of Japan that will feed hundreds of thousands of flood victims in the Philippines as well as providing much-needed financial support for WFP's newly-arrived helicopters.

The contribution, the largest to date in support of WFP's flood relief efforts, will be used to buy 6,700 metric tons of rice—enough to assist the efforts to provide food assistance to 670,000 people for one month. It will also help to ensure that WFP's three emergency relief helicopters remain airborne over the course of the next month to facilitate a swift and coordinated response by the Government of the Philippines and other humanitarian agencies.

"This contribution from the Government and the people of Japan could not have been more generous, nor more timely," said Stephen Anderson, WFP Country Director in the Philippines.

"It allows us, working in close collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to provide urgently needed food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in real need. It also comes at the very moment when our new helicopters arrived, which will vastly expand the relief capacity of Government and humanitarian agencies as long as we have the necessary funding to keep them flying. We are extremely grateful."

Two of the planned three helicopters arrived in Manila yesterday, flown in onboard a cargo aircraft from Turkey. The third, en route from duty in Laos, is expected within the next few days. The newly-arrived helicopters, Russian-built MI 171s capable of transporting 2.5 metric tons of cargo or 22 passengers, will strengthen the ability of the Government and humanitarian agencies to reach thousands who are cut off and isolated by the floods.

Close to four million people were affected by severe floods provoked by Tropical Storm Ketsana that struck the country on September 26. WFP urgently needs US$ 26 million to provide food assistance, air services, logistical support, and emergency telecommunications to one million of the worst-affected.

In addition to the helicopters, WFP has been airlifting other urgently needed supplies and equipment into the country in recent days. More than 105 metric tons of high energy biscuits have arrived in recent days. Seven inflatable boats with outboard engines, the first of 30 requested by the Government, have arrived to improve access to inundated areas. Four large generators have also been shipped in to provide power for field hospitals and other critical government facilities, including the headquarters of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Besides Japan, other donors who have so far contributed to WFP's flood relief effort in the Philippines include UN CERF (US$ 3 million); Spain (US$ 2 million); Australia (US$ 1.7 million) and ECHO (US$ 600,000). (WFP) [top]

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