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Ebola outbreak: WFP rushes food aid to restricted areas

The UN World Food Programme is providing aid in countries affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus
The UN World Food Programme is providing aid in countries affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virusWorld Food Programme

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is launching a relief mission to feed around 1 million people in countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus. This will include restricted access areas in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Over one thousand people have been killed by the virus. Scaling up nutrition among the population is critical for stopping the spread of the disease.

WFP and its partners are distributing the food as we speak. The UN food agency reports, "WFP has been and will continue to be providing food to people in medical quarantines, people under treatment and their relatives, and to the most vulnerable people in the villages affected by the outbreak."

With WFP food aid people living under quarantine do not have to leave homes to get food. As a result of the outbreak and restricted areas of movement, people have lost their livelihoods. Food aid is essential. WFP says,

hundreds of households have lost one or more of their members in working age as the majority of Ebola victims fall within the 15-45 year bracket. The reduction of household income coupled with the already observed food price rise will further deteriorate the food security situation."

Some WFP activities, including school feeding, have been stopped because of the outbreak. Alternative methods of food distribution, including take-home rations, are underway.

WFP, which operates in over 70 countries, relies entirely on voluntary funding for all its missions. Keeping up donations from governments and the public will be crucial during this time period of trying to contain the deadly virus.

The countries impacted by the Ebola virus already have high rates of malnutrition and poverty. This has left communities in an already weakened condition. It's critical that no disruptions in the food supply pipeline occur due to lack of funds.

In addition, WFP is facing ongoing emergencies in Africa including potential famines in South Sudan and Central African Republic. WFP has set up a donation page for its emergency operations.