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Africa

We’ll deliver food assistance in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone for as long as is necessary, says WFP head

media WFP staff at their offices in Freetown, 6 November 2014 Photo: Daniel Finnan

As part of her mandate, the head of the World Food Programme is in Sierra Leone to review food delivery operations to Ebola quarantine areas. WFP Executive Director Erathin Cousin told RFI on Thursday that her agency has so far reached 740,000 people in the country since it began scaling-up its outreach.

“Our timescale’s for as long as it takes for us to address the issues of the crisis, we will commit to providing the food assistance that is necessary,” says Cousin.

Quarantining some areas has made it difficult for some people to get food, resulting in price hikes for staples like rice.

The imposition of quarantines in Sierra Leone has itself been a controversial issue and there have been some reports that people have been breaking the enforced isolation to get food.

The UN itself does not actually agree with the quarantining; however Cousin says this is not about it being right or wrong.

“It is not our decision, we’re not the health officials, we are providing the food support,” she says. “We adapt to the circumstances as they’re presented to us,” she adds.

Cousin met with Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma during her three-day visit and “talked about the necessity for communication prior to quarantining” so that WFP have the correct information for their deliveries.

She addressed the issue of inflation due to the Ebola outbreak, saying that it was impossible for her organisation to stop prices for food going up.

Cousin also defended WFP against allegations from several Sierra Leonean political parties who have claimed that some of the food WFP has delivered is bad or rotten. She says they have made investigations and it is not true.

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