WFP official claims humanitarian aid is failing to meet needs

Oct 19, 2007 (DVB), A senior United Nations World Food Programme official has said that at least five million people in Burma are short of food, and urged the Burmese government to take immediate steps to tackle poverty and hunger in the country.

In a press statement released yesterday, Tony Banbury, WFP's Regional Director for Asia, said that WFP is only able to provide food for about 500,000 people in Burma.

"Humanitarian organizations can help, but we are faced with insufficient funding, and whatever we manage to accomplish in the current circumstances will only scratch the surface," said Mr Banbury.

Mr Banbury blamed the problem in part on Burmese government policies, and urged immediate reform to help the poor and vulnerable people in the country.

"Myanmar and its people have tremendous potential. But the government’s policies, its harsh travel and trade restrictions, unnecessarily trap millions in lives of poverty and malnutrition, even in food surplus areas such as Shan State," he said.

WFP relies on the support of national governments to enable it to carry out its operations, which include food assistance for vulnerable groups such as HIV/AIDS and TB patients, and nutrition programmes for mothers and children.

Reporting by DVB

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