The Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ms. Josette Sheeran was in Brussels on 5-6 May to meet with senior EU officials, including Council President Hermann Van Rompuy and EEAS Deputy Secretary General Maciej Popowski as well as Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
The key topics on her agenda included: Cote d’Ivoire, Northern Africa crisis, DPRK and Humanitarian Food Reserves. Commenting on her visit she pointed out that “the European Union is one of the most generous humanitarian donors. The partnership between the European Union and WFP is therefore vital,” also adding that “the EU has been a leader on the issue of food security, specially with its Food Facility programme.
As regards discussions related to the specific and ongoing crisis situation in Libya, she warned that “if we don’t address the current humanitarian gaps in Libya, a much bigger humanitarian crisis could evolve.” As for Cote d’Ivoire, she noted that “while the political situation in Cote d’Ivoire has somewhat stabilized, on the humanitarian front there is still much to do.”
Media Brief – Visit WFP’s Executive Director to Brussels (5 May)
Northern Africa crisis
– WFP has launched a US$42 million regional emergency operation that aims to provide food over a 3-month period to more than one million people in Libya, and to people crossing into Tunisia and Egypt.
– WFP is concerned about access to food inside Libya, a food-deficit country heavily reliant on imports. To feed a population of over 6.6 million, an estimated 110,000 metric tons of food monthly are required, and in Libya’s case, at least 75 percent of food consumed is imported.
– WFP has opened up supply routes into Libya by sea and by land. To date, it has distributed food assistance to more than 200,000 people in 13 locations in eastern parts of the country. The role of providing food security is imperative in calming public and bolstering stability.
– More than 233,000 people have crossed the border through Salloum crossing point on the Egyptian Libyan border and more than 56,000 people have so far received WFP’s food assistance there. Around 1.5 million Egyptians were estimated to be working in Libya.
– Since 20 February, it is estimated that more than 276,500 people have crossed the border from Libya into Tunisia through Ras Jdir and other crossing points. To date, WFP has provided assistance for more than 52,000 people in Tunisia.
– WFP is expanding its food safety net programmes in Egypt and Tunisia to assist 280,000 people in Tunisia and 180,000 people in Egypt in communities hard hit by the loss of remittances previously being sent home by migrant workers in Libya.
– WFP is launching airlifts (from Dubai, Accra, Niamey and Burkina Faso) to provide urgently needed food assistance and logistics equipment in western and northern Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.
– There are now more than 1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Côte d’Ivoire and more than 131,000 refugees have sought shelter in Liberia.
– Since January, WFP has scaled up its operations in order to meet the increased food needs of IDPs and refugees on both sides of the Côte d’Ivoire/Liberia border. WFP is now appealing for urgently needed resources.
· WFP has launched an emergency operation valued just over US$200 million to reach the most vulnerable 3.5 million of the most vulnerable children, mothers, and the elderly in the most food insecure areas of the country.
· Heavy rainfall in August/September, a bitter winter, crop loss, and a lack of resources to secure cereal supplies from outside the country have left DPRK highly vulnerable to food shortages.
· WFP has agreed a stringent set of monitoring conditions with the DPRK authorities – including access at 24 hours notice and the use of Korean speakers of any nationality – to ensure that our food reaches those it is intended for. A strict enforcement of the “no access, no food” principle remains.
Humanitarian Food Reserves
· Humanitarian Food Reserves could fundamentally strengthen the resilience of today’s global food security architecture by ensuring stable and predictable access to food assistance in infrastructure-poor areas prone to disasters
· WFP received the mandate from the G20 to conduct a study on and develop the concept of humanitarian food reserves. The idea and goal is to ensure the predictable access to food supplies to those countries in need and those countries that are unable to purchase food. Countries will be able to purchase food from these WFP reserves. Some of the food will be available physically; some of it will be stocked virtually.
· Some countries are enthusiastic about the idea but some less so (for example the EC). The reasons why some countries are skeptical is because they are afraid it will become a price control mechanism. WFP however stresses that these humanitarian food reserves will not become price-control mechanisms and that the agency will operate according to market principles.
· WFP is organizing within the next weeks and months several expert meetings to make countries understand what WFP’s key principles are and to ensure them of the need to start such an initiative.
· WFP could be an important partner in the new ECHO strategy for linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD).
· WFP is usually recognized as a purely humanitarian organization. WFP is at the frontline to address food insecurity also in recovery and development settings. DEVCO’s contribution to WFP in 2009 was exceptional.