The executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley (2nd L) poses with children affected by Hurricane Irma at coastal community of Jaimanitas, west of Havana, Cuba, Sept. 16, 2017. David Beasley said on Saturday that the organization will begin a 5.7 million U.S. dollars operation to provide food assistance to some 664,000 people in Cuba. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)
HAVANA, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said on Saturday that the organization will begin a 5.7 million U.S. dollars operation to provide food assistance to some 664,000 people in Cuba.
After visiting the coastal community of Jaimanitas, west of Havana, Beasley said that the WFP already has 1.6 metric tons of food in Cuba and has provided 1.5 million dollars of its emergency funds to buy additional goods.
"The World Food Programme is committed with the people affected by Hurricane Irma along more than 800 kilometers of coastline in Cuba and we are ready to support the Cuban government in its recovery efforts," said Beasley.
The operation will begin immediately with the free distribution of a ration of rice and beans in the highest priority areas.
"The magnitude of the devastation caused by Irma requires that we work together to ensure an immediate recovery and that people have water, food, housing and the economy can re-establish itself," he said.
The distribution of food will focus on boys and girls in boarding primary schools, adults over 65, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
"It's really impressive what the Cuban people have done, thousands of houses, hospitals, schools and electrical infrastructure have been destroyed and people are focused on the recovery," Beasley said after visiting houses devastated by the hurricane.
As part of this operation, the WFP plans to strengthen the logistical capacities of the affected territories with the delivery of 10 temporary warehouses, blankets, lighting and pallets.
According to Beasley, these WFP actions complement the efforts of the Cuban government to ensure a supply of food to those affected by the hurricane.
Meanwhile, Luis Macareno, second chief of Cuba's Civil Defense bureau, thanked the WFP for this donation.
"The United Nations system in Cuba has always been closely linked to what the Cuban state is doing and this is a demonstration of this. In difficult times, they have been supporting the Cuban people in need," he said.
Beasley has met with First Vice President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, to discuss this food assistance operation as well as the availability of additional financial resources for the immediate acquisition of food.
Irma arrived in Cuba last week as a category 5 hurricane. During its rampage across the northern coast, it left 10 dead, 1.7 million people evacuated, brought heavy floods and serious damage to tourism infrastructure, agriculture and housing.