Venezuela, UN to supply food to 185,000 children

By Jorge Jraissati

CARACAS, Venezuela (AA) – A deal by the UN and the government to supply food to 185,000 children in Venezuela through the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was widely praised on Tuesday by activist groups, think tanks and diplomatic delegations.

The British Embassy in Venezuela said on the agreement is “an important example of positive dialogue and a key step in tackling the humanitarian crisis and food insecurity in Venezuela.”

The Crisis Group think tank praised it and said it was a major “step in the right direction towards addressing the country’s dire food insecurity.”

The Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA) “vigorously applauded” the initiative.

The ambitious program expects to reach 185,000 children in 2021 and 1.5 million by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

"This is the first step toward a series of ambitious projects that will provide food support to all of the Venezuelan people," Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on state television on Monday.

The World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley explained that schools were “the most appropriate platform” to “reach communities in an independent manner."

WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri told journalists in Geneva that the program will “invest in the rehabilitation of school canteens and training school staff on food safety practices as a means of reaching the wider community.”

Beasly also thanked the government for allowing the WFP “to be independent and to not let any of our work be politicized by anybody."

Phiri echoed those comments by saying: “Our school meals programs are independent, they’ve always been, and separate from any other interference. Not only in Venezuela, but elsewhere that we have worked.”