ISLAMABAD: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) praised what it called a “landmark contribution” by China that will provide food and nutrition assistance to displaced people and returnee families in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

In its first ever contribution to WFP in Pakistan, China contributed 1 million US dollars to enable WFP food assistance for 158,000 people in major cities, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Bannu districts of KP, in addition to North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand and Orakzai agencies in FATA, the WFP said.

“China is an increasingly significant global player and a vital donor to WFP operations,” said WFP Pakistan Country Director Finbarr Curran.

“WFP is pleased to partner with our new donor in Pakistan in support of our efforts to achieve food and nutrition security,” he said.

“Thanks to China’s contribution, WFP will procure and distribute food assistance which includes yellow split peas, iodized salt, vegetable oil and ‘Mamta’ – a nutritious supplementary food. In addition, 5,600 children between 6-59 months and pregnant and nursing mothers will receive six months of support to prevent malnutrition,” the WFP statement said.

During a signing ceremony for the contribution, Lt. General Abdul Quadir Baloch, Federal Minister for the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) noted his appreciation for WFP’s work supporting displaced populations and returnee families and extending his continued support for WFP operations in KP/FATA regions.

Yao Jing, the Ambassador of China to Pakistan, noted his appreciation for the Government of Pakistan’s role in supporting displaced populations and their return. He highlighted that the contribution will serve as an opportunity to begin a long-lasting partnership between WFP Pakistan and China.

Pakistan has been home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world in recent years. Since 2008, more than five million people have been displaced from FATA.

While many have returned, as of June 2017, an estimated 300,000 people remain displaced and in need of assistance. The humanitarian situation in FATA continues to impede progress towards stabilizing food security in the region.