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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MANILA – Three weeks after Super Typhoon Odette (known internationally as Rai) devastated a huge swathe of the Philippines, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that nutrition and food security are at risk in communities in hard-hit areas unless immediate food needs are met over the next six months.

“Super Typhoon Odette left a trail of devastation in its wake – affecting millions. Unless we act now and provide badly needed food assistance to affected families, we risk seeing a rapid rise in preventable malnutrition,” said U.N. World Food Programme Country Director and Representative Brenda Barton. 11 out of the Philippines’ 17 regions were affected.

Typhoon Odette – the strongest typhoon to strike the Philippine archipelago in 2021- made landfall nine times over an area the size of Austria over two days. Over 7 million people were affected, according to the latest government data, and the typhoon flattened houses, upended lives, and devastated farming and fishing communities which provide a major source of income and livelihoods. It caused massive electricity and telecommunications outages that are still affecting many areas.

“Advance preparations and early response by the government have been laudable. Death rates have been relatively low and emergency support is rolling out to communities. But the road to recovery is long and more support will be needed,” Barton added.

She underlined highly concerning hunger levels and malnutrition rates pre-typhoon. In some impacted areas like Caraga region, 53 percent of families were unable to afford a nutritious diet while childhood stunting was 36 percent (beyond the World Health Organization threshold, which signifies “very high public health significance.”) Stunting indicates that children are already suffering from long-term deprivation. Their nutritional status puts them greater risk for diseases and even death.

In support of government-led relief and recovery efforts, the U.N. World Food Programme requires $25.8 million to provide food assistance to 250,000 typhoon survivors, alongside emergency logistics and telecommunications support to the broader typhoon response. Of this, $20.8 million is needed for food and cash transfers over the next six months.

Initially, the U.N. World Food Programme will provide food to augment the family food packs given out by the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD), ensuring communities can meet their essential food needs while food prices remain unstable. This will be followed by cash assistance, which will help people to recover while also stimulating the economy in places where markets are already up-and-running.

So far, U.N. World Food Programme has received $4.7 million – from the Governments of Australia, Brazil, Ireland and the US, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), private sector and generous individual donations via the U.N. World Food Programme’s Share The Meal website and app. “Immediate funding is essential if we are to prevent a nutrition emergency – we were already seeing worrisome malnutrition in the affected areas,” Barton added.

When Typhoon Odette hit, the U.N. World Food Programme immediately supported the Philippine Government in its relief efforts, deploying 113 trucks to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the delivery of family food packs, hygiene kits and other non-food relief items. The U.N. World Food Programme and the Department of Information, Communication and Technology have also – for the first time – rolled out innovative mobile emergency telecommunications sets (“MOVE”) which have made it possible for emergency responders to quickly communicate and coordinate in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), women and girls become even more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and gender-based violence after natural calamities such as Typhoon Odette. Unconfirmed incidents of rape, domestic violence and sex in exchange for food have been reported by UNFPA field staff – a result of the desperate situation ignited by the scarcity of food and clean water, and the disruption of community support systems and protection mechanisms brought upon by Typhoon Odette.

“We’re seeing all of these challenges at the present time, and we know that they are linked. That is why we put women’s health, rights, and choices at the center of our humanitarian response to the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Odette,“ said Dr. Leila Joudane, UNFPA Representative in the Philippines.

Note to editors:

The U.N. World Food Programme’s funding request for $25.8 million to assist 250,000 people is part of the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) plan which aims to mobilize $107.2 million to assist 530,000 people mostly in typhoon-affected areas from December 2021 to June 2022. UNICEF and the National Nutrition Council co-lead the national Nutrition Cluster comprising: national government, UN , NGO’s and CSO’s.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media, @WFP_Philippines

MANILA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing crucial emergency logistics and telecommunications support to the Government of the Philippines in its response to the devastation caused by Typhoon Rai. This is the strongest storm to hit the Philippines in 2021 and the third strongest typhoon to strike the Philippines in December since the 1950s.

“Our thoughts are with the families who have been through so much – the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and now this devastating typhoon. The U.N. World Food Programme stands firmly with those living on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Under the Government’s leadership, we will do what is needed to help communities recover from this ordeal and continue building their resilience against future shocks,” said U.N. World Food Programme Country Director Brenda Barton.

Typhoon Rai – known locally as “Odette” – made landfall in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province, in the southeast of the Philippines, on December 16, bringing torrential rains, heavy winds, storm surges and landslides. After passing through nine central/southern regions, it exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility on December 19, leaving behind a massive trail of damage. The storm has affected the lives and livelihoods of more than 1.8 million people, including more than 600,000 people displaced from their homes and sheltering in evacuation sites.

As of December 20, many communities along the typhoon’s path remain without power or telecommunications. Transportation options are still limited, which is hampering relief efforts. The storm struck as countless Filipinos were still facing hardships linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, which have stretched their coping capacity to the limit.

In collaboration with the U.N. World Food Programme, the Government’s Department of Information, Communications and Technology (DICT) rapidly deployed three newly-built Mobile Operations Vehicles for Emergencies (MOVE) units from pre-positioned bases in Butuan, Davao and Tacloban to the disaster zones in Surigao City and Maasin City in Leyte. In Surigao City, the two MOVE units have become the first means to bring connectivity to the Government coordination and response since the communications infrastructure was damaged by the typhoon. The U.N. World Food Programme IT staff on the ground have also helped set up portable MOVE sets in Siargao Island and are now working on Dinagat Island.

The units are part of the six MOVE units the U.N. World Food Programme co-designed and produced with DICT with an aim to strengthen its telecommunications capacity during rapid-onset emergencies.

The U.N. World Food Programme has donated 12 portable satellite communication devices to DICT and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help the authorities coordinate their responses in remote areas, and two mobile storage units and a generator for the establishment of a logistics hub in Surigao City. The U.N. World Food Programme is also providing vital logistics support to transport family food packs to affected areas.

The U.N. World Food Programme and humanitarian partners are closely monitoring the formation of another potential storm which could further impact areas already affected by Rai. The U.N. World Food Programme is also coordinating with FAO to draft a response plan for the Food Security and Agriculture cluster.

As part of a coordinated response by UN agencies, NGOs and private sector partners, the U.N. World Food Programme will continue providing telecommunications and logistics support to the Government, and will require $310,000 for this critical support in the next two weeks.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA@wfp_media@WFP_philippines, and @WFPAsiaPacific

KABUL – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is rapidly ramping up humanitarian operations in Afghanistan to assist more than 23 million people facing severe hunger in the country in 2022, as inflation and currency depreciation make it even more difficult to feed themselves. The U.N. World Food Programme has assisted 15 million people so far in 2021, with 7 million assisted in November alone – up from 4 million in September.

The U.N. World Food Programme has also been able to preposition food in strategic locations across the northeast and central highlands of the country where heavy winter snows can cut off communities from assistance. This will ensure that the U.N. World Food Programme can provide a lifeline to areas that would otherwise be cut off.

“Afghanistan is facing an avalanche of hunger and destitution the likes of which I have never seen in my twenty plus years with the U.N. World Food Programme,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, U.N. World Food Programme country director in Afghanistan.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve so far, but the needs are enormous and we have a huge amount to do to stop this crisis from becoming a catastrophe. We urgently need $220 million a month in 2022 to assist 23 million Afghans,” she warned.

According to the latest U.N. World Food Programme phone surveys, an estimated 98 percent of Afghans are not consuming enough food – a worrisome 17 percent rise since August. The spiraling economic crisis, conflict and drought has meant the average family can now barely cope.

Families are resorting to desperate measures as the bitter winter sets in; nine in every ten households are now buying less expensive food, eight in ten are eating less and seven in ten are borrowing food to get by.

  • In November, the U.N. World Food Programme assisted more than 7 million people, dispatching over 50,000 metric tons of food – almost double the dispatches in September. In 2021, the U.N. World Food Programme has dispatched more than 200,000 metric tons of food.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme has increased its storage capacity by 40 percent (to 88,000 metric tons) since August.
  • In 2021 so far, the U.N. World Food Programme has assisted more than 15 million people across all 34 provinces in the country. In 2022, the U.N. World Food Programme will provide food and cash assistance for 23 million people in every province.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme-managed United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is providing a regional air bridge linking Pakistan and Tajikistan to Kabul, and domestic services across the country to transport humanitarian responders to the frontlines of the crisis. UNHAS has operated 2,497 flights in 2021, serving 13,577 passengers from 153 humanitarian organizations.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme is working to provide nutrition treatment and malnutrition prevention for 1.6 million children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme is working to provide school meals, take-home rations and cash transfers for 1 million children across the country.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme is working to provide training in vocational skills and environmental management for 1.1 million people.

Broadcast quality footage available here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media and @wfp_Afghanistan

“The World Cannot Turn Its Back as the Afghan People Starve.” WFP in a Race Against Time to Stave off a Hunger Catastrophe.

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