The World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday held a hand-over ceremony in Mogadishu to welcome the arrival of more than 2,800 tonnes of rice assistance into the drought-hit country from China.
China’s rice contribution will enable WFP to sustain ongoing efforts to save lives and avert famine in Somalia, according to a press release by the WFP, which added that it will be used to provide hot meals to about 96,500 vulnerable people for about three months.
“The rice is one part of the generous 10 million U.S. dollar contribution that WFP received from China in April this year,” WFP Somalia Deputy County Director Edith Heines said.
“This contribution towards WFP’s emergency drought response in Somalia was also used to buy and distribute sorghum for families in need of food assistance and to provide special therapeutic food to treat moderate malnutrition in small children,” Heines said.
Qin Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Somalia, said at the ceremony that China has been lending a helping hand to drought-affected Somalia. In addition to the 10 million US dollars food assistance, China has also provided emergency relief materials, including medicine, nutrition, tents and water tanks, to people in need in Somalia, demonstrating the sincere friendship between the two countries.
Maryan Quasim, minister for humanitarian affairs and disaster management of Somalia, said that the government of Somalia was grateful for the generous contribution made by China, adding that this was not the first time for China to send assistance to the country when it was in a difficult time.
According to statistics from the WFP, about 3.2 million people in Somalia are in need of emergency food assistance. Some 363,000 children are acutely malnourished, of whom 71,000 are severely malnourished and face a high risk of disease and death.
“Chinese help us in many ways,” Ali Mohamed Ali, permanent secretary of ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, told media at the event. He said the country values China’s aid.
According to Qin, from 1960 to 1991, the Chinese government had built 89 projects in Somalia, including the National Stadium and the National Theater. The Chinese government has also sent at least 13 batches of medical teams with some 400 members in total to cure people suffering from illnesses in Somalia.
Since the start of war in Somalia in 1991, the Chinese government has always been positively supporting the process of peace and reconstruction in Somalia and providing a lot of aids to the country, Qin added.