WFP pledges to continue support

KATHMANDU: The World Food Programme on Friday said it would continue to support the people of Nepal even though it has been dragged into controversies over the alleged supply of substandard foods to quake-victims.

“WFP will stay at the side of the Nepali people, working hand in hand with the government to support the ongoing recovery efforts, and ultimately to assist in the construction of a stronger and more prosperous Nepal,” WFP Country Director Pippa Bradford said in a statement on Friday.

WFP will work hand in hand with Nepal government to support the recovery efforts to build a prosperous Nepal

Bardford’s remarks come at a time when a senior UN official — John Ging — indirectly threatened shifting WFP’s support to other crisis-hit zones like Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, if media continued to lash out at WFP for its work.

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Ging, Director, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at a press conference in the UN House on Wednesday had claimed that WFP never distributed damaged foods to earthquake victims in Nepal.

He went on to say the reports that the WFP supplied substandard and inedible food items to the earthquake-hit people were ‘nonsense’.

Without mentioning anything about Ging’s comments and media reports thereafter, the WFP Country Director Bradford on Friday expressed the organisation’s commitment to work in Nepal.

While reiterating its humanitarian response to the people of Nepal in close partnerships with the Government of Nepal at all central, district and VDC levels, WFP said it has to date reached out to over two million people with food supplies.

WFP has launched its second phase which has already reached 440,000 people with rice, pulses and oil in 10 districts, and distributed nutrition supplements to prevent acute malnutrition to 12,700 children aged under two and 1,400 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, said the UN food assistance arms in a statement. It said it has handed over to date over 11,000 metric tonnes of relief supplies on behalf of 116 different organisations and announced the plan of constructing 50 temporary health clinics in some of most quake-affected areas.

Meanwhile, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also discussed the issue of sub-standard food allegedly distributed by WFP and the controversial remarks of OCHA Director Ging.

Acting Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi told The Himalayan Times that the ministry was conducting an inquiry into Ging’s reported remarks.

He also informed that WFP was yet to respond to the ministry’s correspondence to clarify on the report that the UN body distributed substandard and inedible rice and pluses in some quake-hit areas.

MoFA had written to WFP on Wednesday after a parliamentary panel came up with a report that inedible food items were found out at WFP warehouses and its rice sacks that ready for distribution to quake-affected people in Gorkha.