Australia, World Food Programme serve meals to Marawi school kids

THE Australian government has provided A$1.1 million, or about P42.7 million, to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to support the Philippines’s response to the Marawi City siege.

With this funding, WFP will be able to provide six months’ worth of school meals for the affected 50,000 students.

“As a good friend and neighbor, Australia is committed to provide humanitarian assistance when necessary,” Ambassador of Australia to the Philippines Amanda Gorely said. “Through our partnership with the Department of Education and Task Force Bangon Marawi, we are supporting people [afflicted] by the crisis.”

Australia has supported early recovery activities by addressing the immediate food needs of the locals directly hit by the civil war in the Lanao del Sur capital. In addition to school meals, its support will provide food assistance for nearly 23,000 households and 8,100 vulnerable laborers and farmers.

The said country’s aid will contribute to peace and stability in the area, as well as allow students to finish the academic school year, which ends in March.

“Education plays an important role in community-building. We’re pleased these emergency school meals will support students’ education and development,” Gorely added.

In July 2017 Australia donated rice that was allocated and used to feed more than 57,000 primary and secondary students in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur.

Australia later contributed an additional A$500,000 (P19 million) to WFP, which supported the general food distribution carried out by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The amount provided rice to 11,000 households in Lanao del Sur from August to December 2017.

“We are grateful for our strategic partnership with the Australian government, which allowed us to immediately respond to the Marawi City crisis through rice that was prepositioned at the onset of the emergency,” said Stephen Gluning, WFP representative and country director. “Australia’s support of emergency school meals will enable students to continue their studies while being nourished with a daily meal.”

Since June 2017, the Philippine government and the WFP have distributed rice to about 128,000 people and provided school meals to more than 57,000 students in the country. WFP is mobilizing additional resources to cover the needs of its current operations until May 2018, including early recovery activities that involve food and cash-based assistance.

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