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KHARTOUM – The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed its first ever contribution from the Government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The donation of 6.1 million Libyan dinars (US$4.5 million) will help feed 2.7 million people in the Darfur region of western Sudan and 200,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.

“We are extremely grateful for Libya’s generous support to WFP’s emergency operations for the people of Darfur and refugees in Chad. The contribution comes at a time when there is donor fatigue in many parts of the world and our operations face severe funding shortages,” said WFP Deputy Regional Director for Sudan Bradley Guerrant.

The Libyan donation follows price increases last year in JetA1 fuel during WFP’s airlift of food from Libya during last year’s rainy season in western Sudan, when roads into West Darfur were impassable and food shortages were greatest for millions of people affected by conflict.

The Libyan government agreed to cover the increase so WFP could continue its vital airlift. The government also assisted in WFP port operations, including customs clearance, port storage and other services such as providing escorts to Chadian border and road rehabilitation.

The new donation covers the difference between the old and new JetA1 prices and will be spent by WFP on its emergency operation in Darfur and to feed refugees from Darfur in Chad.

The airlift began on 7 May 2005 with an Ilyushin-76 flying from Al Kufra in southern Libya to the North Darfur capital of El-Fasher and the South Darfur capital of Nyala. WFP later added a second aircraft. Both aircraft flew in a total of 17,500 metric tons of cereals from May to November 2005.

“Thanks to the assistance provided by the Libyan government, we managed to reach the vast majority of people in need of food assistance and avoided a potential disaster during the rainy season. The food we managed to transport helped enormously to alleviate the suffering of these people,” said Guerrant.

Since August 2004, Libya has also provided a crucial ground transportation corridor from the Libyan port of Benghazi through the Sahara Desert to eastern Chad. This continues to deliver substantial amounts of WFP food aid. To date, WFP has transported by truck 55,501 tons of food through this corridor.

“The Libyan corridor is a vital link to the people we are assisting by allowing us to dramatically increase the amount of food aid that we can deliver overland,” said Guerrant. “Again, we are very grateful to the Libyan government for giving us their full support.”

In all, WFP requires US$746 million for its emergency operation in Sudan in 2006 to assist a total of 6.1 million people in Darfur, the South, the East and the Three Areas. However it has received just 29 percent of that amount in contributions, leaving a shortfall of US$532 million.

Donors to WFP’s 2006 emergency operation include: the United States (US$188 million); United Nations (US$13 million); Libya (US$4.5 million), Canada (US$3.9 million); Ireland (US$1.2 million); Italy (US$1.2 million); Switzerland (US$758,000); Belgium (US$ 605,000); Norway (US$317,000); Private (US$20,000).