Home > Local News > WFP retracts food security statement

WFP retracts food security statement

Thursday, 23 December 2010 20:38 Thomas Miller and Cheang Sokha
The United Nations World Food Programme has issued a letter of apology
to Prime Minister Hun Sen over a recent news report citing a WFP
assessment that Cambodia remained at risk of
food insecurity.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post
on Thursday, was sent on December 18, just a day after the WFP
warehouse logistics officer Seng Kunnaka was arrested on suspicion of
incitement for sharing a printed web article with co-workers.

In the letter, WFP country director Jean-Pierre DeMargerie reassured Hun Sen that the country’s food situation was secure.

“First
of all, I would like to apologise for any mistake that WFP has made
about the government of Cambodia,” he wrote in the letter.

“WFP
values its good relations with the government of Cambodia and expresses
our regret for any act or statement that has influenced this good
relationship. WFP does not consider the situation of food security in
Cambodia to be at an alarming level…. WFP considers Cambodia as a
country with a food surplus,” DeMargerie added.

But as recently as September, WFP Communications Officer Rosaleen Martin told The Post that the food security situation for millions in Cambodia was “precarious.”

“WFP
remains concerned that there are close to 2 million Cambodians living
in a situation of chronic food insecurity (which can easily rise to
close to 3 million during the lean season) and are in [a] very
precarious situation with limited capacity to cope with any new shocks
such as floods, droughts, and price fluctuations,” she said.

Yesterday,
Martin said WFP was “working hard in supporting efforts to improve the
food security of the remaining 18 percent” of Cambodians who live below
the food poverty line.

In a speech in Battambang province on
December 9, Hun Sen lashed out a media report that allegedly cited the
WFP as saying that Cambodia remained vulnerable to food insecurity. He
then ordered the Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon, to ask
WFP to clarify the issue.

“Please ask [WFP] if they said it like
that, and just take back our rice and stop giving it to them,” Hun Sen
said. Cambodia has about 8 million tonnes of rice, with 3.7 million
tonnes of rice surplus for export, he said.

The letter from
DeMargerie stated that the government had provided 2,000 tonnes of rice
and US$467,000 to the WFP for distribution this year, and more than $5
million in rice and money since 2007. DeMargerie met Keat Chhon on
December 13 to discuss the issue.

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