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ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today celebrated the support and firm commitments of Ghana and Italy to its emergency responses and to the global movement to end hunger – the Zero Hunger Challenge.
In official visits today to WFP’s Rome headquarters, the President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama and the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini both addressed a meeting of WFP’s Executive Board.
In his remarks to the board, President Mahama spoke of the impact of the Ebola Virus Disease on the food security of people in the three countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone: “Many families have not been able to plant and harvest their crops this time. The intervention of WFP to supply food to vulnerable families and communities will go a long way in strengthening these families to fight the disease more effectively.”
Ghana is currently hosting the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). The base is headquartered in the capital, Accra, at a UN Humanitarian Response Depot, one of six depots managed globally by WFP. UNMEER is coordinating the humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak in the West African nations affected by the outbreak. Ghana is also host to WFP’s centrally pooled truck fleet — the Regional Logistics Intervention Fleet – and the Tema Harbour in south-eastern Ghana acts as one of the corridors for international shipments of humanitarian aid.
Ghana is also a strong supporter of girls’ education, through WFP’s take-home ration and scholarship programmes for girls. WFP also supports specialized nutrition programmes and WFP’s Purchase for Progress activities to support smallholder farmers in Ghana.
“Ghana is at the forefront of global leadership when it comes to saving lives and eradicating hunger…and that leadership and commitment is exemplified by Ghana’s role in the global and regional fight against the Ebola Virus Disease,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
In her remarks to the board, Hon. Boldrini emphasized Italy’s support for zero hunger.
“It is not simply a matter of producing more food; rather, the challenge is to ensure that countries in difficulty are given fair access to what is produced. This cannot be done until everyone has a level of income and education that allows them to live an independent and decent existence.”
Hon. Boldrini, who worked as a communications officer at WFP from 1993 to 1998, also paid tribute to WFP’s emergency work and recalled that her time working for WFP – during which she witnessed the genocide in Rwanda and wars in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. This period “proved an unforgettable experience that was to shape my professional and personal outlook,” she said.
Executive Director Cousin emphasized WFP’s strong collaboration with the other Rome-based UN food agencies – the UN Food and Agriculture Organziation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development: “We proudly work together with our host the Government of Italy and the Rome Based Agencies, to fly the flag for food and nutrition high at next year’s EXPO 2015 in Milan,” where the theme will be ‘Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life.’
Following their remarks, both high-level guests met with WFP staff and signed ceremonial copies of the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. They placed flowers before the newly-renovated WFP Memorial Wall commemorating staff who lost their lives in the line of duty.
On Monday, the General Director of the Italian International Cooperation, Giampaolo Cantini, joined Executive Director Cousin at WFP’s headquarters to officially open a new ‘Peace Garden’ – a green space filled with olive trees, intended to highlight the link between global peace and food security and the role of the UN food and agricultural agencies hosted by Italy. The planting of the garden was supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.
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For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Caroline Hurford, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2330, Mob. +39 348 1325018
Vichi De Marchi, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2058, Mob +39 348 0517605
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634