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World Food Programme

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© UNHCR / N. Behring-Chisholm

The World Food Programme, or WFP, is the frontline UN agency in the fight against global hunger, responsible for distributing food to millions of needy people, including refugees, internally displaced people and returnees. In emergencies it takes food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters.

It works closely with UNHCR during emergencies and longer-term crises to provide food to uprooted people around the world, especially vulnerable groups such as women and children. It supports food-related activities aimed at building refugee self-reliance by developing food production or generating other employment.

The two agencies revised their existing Memorandum of Understanding in March 1997. WFP provides food assistance whenever the beneficiaries number at least 5,000 people, but for smaller populations where the local government cannot meet the need, UNHCR normally steps in.

Through the timely provision of the right quantity and the right kinds of foodstuffs, UNHCR and WFP seek to ensure the restoration or maintenance of a sound diet through a balanced and culturally acceptable food basket.

While UNHCR has the primary responsibility for determining the nutritional standards and for the implementation of special feeding programmes, the two organizations conduct joint food assessment missions and cooperate in the distribution of food rations and the establishment of planning figures concerning numbers of beneficiaries.