Washington, DC | Feb. 6, 2022 – Our hearts go out to those impacted by Cyclone Batsirai, which made landfall on the east coast of Madagascar on Saturday evening with wind gusts of 146 mph. At least six people are confirmed dead and nearly 50,000 displaced to date. Whole villages are reported to be almost completely wiped out. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that as many as 150,000 could be forced to leave their homes. In a double whammy for vulnerable communities, the cyclone comes hot on the heels of Storm Ana two weeks ago, which severely damaged livelihoods, agricultural land, and key infrastructure in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.

World Food Program USA is closely monitoring the unfolding crisis and stands ready to support the U.N. World Food Programme’s emergency response. In anticipation of Cyclone Batsirai, the U.N. World Food Programme pre-positioned 50 metric tons of food to quickly provide assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme is also strengthening its supply chain and IT capacities to support the government’s emergency response.

“We stand committed to the people of Madagascar and will do everything we can to reach vulnerable families in their time of need,” said Barron Segar, President and CEO of World Food Program USA. “But we can’t do it without the support of donors. Please join us as we work to provide urgent relief to storm victims.”

In Southern Africa, where livelihoods and economies are highly dependent on weather fluctuations, frequent climate extremes like cyclones are driving hunger and eroding development. With no time or means to recover, communities rely on humanitarian assistance. In Madagascar, the U.N. World Food Programme helps communities build resilience so they can withstand shocks and protect development. This work is key to mitigating the impacts of increasingly frequent and destructive storms that increase food insecurity.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

World Food Program USA, a 501©(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

Media Contact:
Toula Athas
Director, Communications
tathas@wfpusa.org
202-627-3940

COX’S BAZAR – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is serving hot meals today to 2,200 refugees affected by a large fire that damaged or destroyed at least 500 shelters in Camp 16 of the Kutupalong refugee settlement.

In the immediate aftermath of the blaze last night, the U.N. World Food Programme and its national NGO partner Resource Integration Centre (RIC) distributed fortified biscuits to 328 families (approximately 1,600 people) who had lost their homes or cooking equipment. Starting today, the U.N. World Food Programme will distribute hot meals twice daily to all the families left with no means to cook until shelters and cooking equipment, including cooking gas, can be restored. Families will then be reintegrated into the regular food assistance program.

“We are deeply saddened to see the extent of the devastation in Camp 16,” said Sheila Grudem, the U.N. World Food Programme’s senior emergency coordinator and head of office in Cox’s Bazar. “Thanks to the partnerships we have with national organizations, UN agencies, retailers and local restaurants, we fortunately have the capacity to provide immediate relief to those who have lost everything and we have all our hands on deck to do so,” Grudem added.

As in the March 2021 fires, the U.N. World Food Programme is also making its suite of digital beneficiary management systems available to humanitarian partners to support the coordination of the delivery of non-food items such as cooking gas, especially to those refugees who have lost their documents in the fire. Volunteers from the U.N. World Food Programme and the inter-agency Site Maintenance Engineering Project (SMEP) are also deployed in the field to support the clearance of debris.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s regular food assistance in Cox’s Bazar provides every refugee family in the camps with an electronic voucher (“e-voucher”) topped up with a monthly allowance of $12 per person per month. Refugees can purchase their preferred foods directly from a network of 22 outlets in the camps managed by Bangladeshi retailers. No U.N. World Food Programme site was damaged by the fire, which will allow affected families to return to the outlets as soon as they have the means to cook.

Cox’s Bazar is the largest refugee settlement in the world, home to almost 900,000 refugees. In a dense mesh of bamboo and tarpaulin shelters, fires are one of many hazards adding to the extreme vulnerability of refugees. In March 2021, 10,000 homes burned down and at least 45,000 people were displaced. Heavy monsoon floods in July 2021 affected 46,000 refugees and caused devastating landslides.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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