Acute funding shortages may hamper key operations UN food agency warns

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is facing severe funding shortages that could hamper two of its largest operations – in Afghanistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the agency’s Executive Director warned today.Addressing WFP’s Executive Board in Rome for the first time since his appointment, James T. Morris said the Agency’s Afghan reconstruction programme has a 46 per cent budget shortfall. At the same time, a lack of donations for the operation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had stopped WFP from feeding 1 million people there this month.“We are extremely concerned that such high priority emergencies have fallen this far short on funding,” Mr. Morris said.WFP’s Afghanistan operation was launched last month to help some 9million people in the country rebuild their lives after three years of drought and war, but low donor response forced the agency to rely on pre-existing food stocks in April, while breaks in the food pipeline are now considered imminent.In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, funding shortages, coupled with operational impediments, are also undermining WFP’s ability to cope with another major food emergency. In May, the agency will not be able to distribute food to over 350,000 elderly people and 675,000 school children.“We have already had to make some tough decisions,” said Mr. Morris, emphasizing the need for immediate pledges “because once a contribution is made it takes two to four months to get that food into the stomach of a hungry North Korean.”In this climate of funding shortages, Mr. Morris told WFP’s Executive Board that he would use his five-year tenure at the agency’s helm to expand fund-raising efforts, tapping corporations, foundations and individuals for contributions.He also appealed to the assembled representatives to support WFP. “As you have seen with Afghanistan and North Korea, we are falling short,” he said. “Poor and hungry people need your help.”

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