27 February 2008 The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started distributing emergency food assistance to tens of thousands of people in Madagascar, where at least 73 people have died and almost 150,000 others have been left homeless after Cyclone Ivan battered the island nation last week.
WFP has already handed out three-day rations of high-energy biscuits to 2,000 Malagasy living in tents in the capital, Antananarivo, after their homes were destroyed by the cyclonic winds, which reached speeds of about 190 kilometres per hour when it struck the country on 17 February.
Later this week it expects to distribute corn-soya blend porridge to some of the tent camps, the agency said in a press statement, adding that general food distributions and food-for-work activities will also start in the coming days.
WFP has also provided 500 kilograms of the biscuits along the east coast and on the small island of St. Marie, the regions worst affected by Cyclone Ivan, the latest in a series of storms this season to strike Madagascar.
In anticipation of the annual cyclone season in the Indian Ocean country, WFP pre-positioned food in strategic locations, and it currently has about 3,000 tons of food – including rice, pulses, oil and biscuits – in its warehouse in the north-eastern port city of Toamasina.
But with about 140,000 people estimated to need 2,000 tons of immediate food assistance, WFP said it expects to face a shortage of rice and vegetable oil by April.
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