Azerbaijan, Baku, 10 January / corr Trend K.Ramazanova / The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a donation from the Russian Government of food worth US$2 million to support thousands of vulnerable internally displaced people (IDPs) in Azerbaijan.
We are very grateful to Russia for this generous move and we appeal to other countries to follow its example and support our operation at this critical phase," WFP Azerbaijan Country Director Lynne Miller said, adding that the operation currently faced a shortfall of nearly 40%.
The commodities, 217.5 metric tons of vegetable oil and 2,016 metric tons of wheat flour, were purchased in Russia and will help feed 75,000 of the most vulnerable IDPs for four months. The food will be distributed by the International Organization for Migration - one of WFP's implementing partners in Azerbaijan.
"Russia is a major regional player and we are always happy to contribute to those in need," said Nikolay Zelenuk, Department Chief in Emercom, the Russian Ministry of Emergencies, who attended an official handover ceremony at a WFP distribution site in Barda district in the west of the country.
At the same time, WFP appealed to other donors for more contributions to cover the last few months of the US$15.9 million operation
The event was also attended by Azerbaijani government officials and WFP Azerbaijan Country Director Lynne Miller and Vasiliy Istratov, the Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
Taking part in the event, Mahammad Maharramov, Deputy Head Department for Problems of IDPs, Refugees, Migration and Relations with International organizations of the Cabinet of Ministers, said: "We are deeply grateful to the Russian Government for this substantial contribution to the food aid project for the displaced persons in Azerbaijan."
Since 2003, when the Russian Federation joined WFP's growing list of donors, it has provided more than US$44 million worth of assistance to WFP efforts around the world.
Last year, Russia said it would boost its annual donations to WFP from US$11 million this year to US$15 million in 2009 and 2010.
The UN food agency is in the process of handing over its caseload of 130,000 beneficiaries to the Government of Azerbaijan - which is already taking care of the first 55,000 - and plans to complete this operation by end of June 2008
WFP started operations in Azerbaijan in 1994 to help over half a million people who had been displaced. Gradually some of them moved to urban areas and became self-reliant and assistance has since been shifted to those who remained in rural areas and are still unable to meet their basic needs.
The Government of Azerbaijan provides assistance to a large number of the IDPs and has itself donated US$3 million to the WFP operation in the country.
WFP's operation extends until June 2008. Donors include Azerbaijan (US$3 million); the Russian Federation (US$2 million); Japan (US$100,000); private donors (US$69,000); and multilateral donations (US$ 3.3 million).