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China donates $16m to famine-stricken Somalia

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-08-22 22:25

BEIJING - China has made its largest single donation to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) with $16 million towards famine relief operation in Somalia, WFP said on Monday.

The donation will be directed towards WFP's food assistance operation in the Horn of Africa nation, where 1.5 million people are currently receiving food rations, the agency said via a press release.

"This is an enormous gesture of goodwill from the people of China," WFP Deputy Executive Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva said, calling China "a vital donor to WFP programmes around the world."

"Even more impressive is that China, which continues to make giant strides addressing its own development challenges, shows a genuine concern to support people in need beyond its borders," said the deputy director.

Combined with earlier donations, China's support for WFP is beyond $20 million in 2011, according to the release.

WFP plans to provide ready-to-use supplementary foods, which are specialized nutritious products designed to protect young children in particular from the ravages of malnutrition.

"The Chinese donation will help ensure that these vital supplies, as well as general rations of basic foods such as cereals, pulses and cooking oil, reach those most in need over the coming months," said the release.

Somalia has some of the world's highest malnutrition rates with one in four children acutely malnourished in the South. Prices for staple cereals in Somalia are at record levels, making any already desperate situation even worse.

According to the WFP, though three districts of southern Somalia are the only parts of the Horn of Africa currently experiencing famine conditions, some eleven million people across the region are currently estimated to be in need of food assistance following the worst drought in 60 years.

Other countries affected include Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti.

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