Ebola affected communities in West Africa at risk of severe food shortagesListen /
Up to 1.3 million people require food assistance in areas worst affected by the Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
The agency says populations in areas that have been placed under quarantine by governments to stop the spread of the Ebola virus were at risk of severe food shortages due to the disruption of markets, agricultural activities and rising food prices.
WFP says it will require about $70 million to provide food assistance to the affected populations.
Fabienne Pompey spokesperson for WFP in West Africa says the organisation is already providing food assistance to over 100,000 people comprising mainly of those placed under quarantine in health centers and their families.
"So far, Ebola is a health crisis, but it can shortly become a food security crisis. Because of these isolated areas, people are not free to go in and out. Some are not able to go to their fields, some have moved to other areas and are away from home, kind of internally displaced, and also the economy and trade is disrupted. So people will have difficulties to get their daily meals. It's very important that we are there to prevent this health crisis to become a food security crisis. Our staff and partners will be equipped with gloves, boots, they will have sanitizers to clean their hands as much as possible. We also ask the people on the distribution sites to stay one meter away from each other. Our staff do not enter the health centers. We hand over the food to health workers and they do the distribution."
The death toll from the Ebola disease outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria stands at 1,229.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Geneva.