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30 December 2008: Sargent announces €2 million Christmas donation to provide food aid for Ethiopia

Minister of State Trevor Sargent TD today announced a €2 million donation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food aid in Ethiopia. A shortage of funds for vital operations has meant that WFP has been forced to cut rations to hungry people in Ethiopia.

Prolonged drought and high food prices are bringing many people in Ethiopia ever closer to famine. Currently 12 million people are affected, and in particular regions, malnutrition has reached crisis point.

Recalling his recent visit to Ethiopia, Minister Sargent noted, "I have seen first hand how Irish funding helps save lives. Irish people have always been generous in helping others, in good times and in bad. At this time of the year especially, it is important to reach out and help our neighbours in need and not to forget those who, although they may be far away, depend on our support for life itself." The Minister said that he had seen at first hand how well the World Food Programme operations in Ethiopia ensured that food was delivered directly to those most in need.

Note for Editors

WFP, which was established in 1962, is the United Nations frontline agency mandated to combat global hunger, which afflicts one of every seven people on earth. WFP provides food aid primarily to low-income, food deficit countries, to assist in the implementation of economic and social development projects and to meet the relief needs of victims of natural and other disasters. WFP operates on the basis of voluntary contributions by donor countries pledged at irregular intervals. In 2007 Ireland's overall contribution to WFP was approx €25 million. Ireland provides untied food aid, in the form of cash contributions as opposed to 'in kind' commodity contributions.

In 2007, WFP fed 86.1 million people in 80 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people. Currently some of WFP's major operations include: Eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia) Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) and elsewhere. Ethiopia is the second largest programme in Africa Ireland's contribution to WFP is coordinated through two government Departments; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Irish Aid in Department of Foreign Affairs.

Date Released: 30 December 2008