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NHRC to govt: Take action against WFP

  • Relief quality row
- Post Report, KATHMANDU

May 27, 2015-

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the government to take action against the World Food Programme (WFP) for distributing substandard rice to earthquake survivors.

The rights watchdog said the substandard rice distributed by the UN agency has “posed a serious health risk to the public.”

An NHRC team led by its member Mohna Ansari examined the quality of rice stored at Samaj Sewa building in Mahadevsthan, Kavre, and found it to be inedible. Locals had earlier complained that the quality of rice provided as part of relief material was poor. The Ansari-led team collected samples of rice from quake-affected districts and examined them at a laboratory of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control. The lab report showed that the quality of rice distributed by the WFP was below the criteria set by Nepal government.

The UN agency has distributed food to 1.7 million people in quake-hit districts.

The WFP, meanwhile, refuted the NHRC findings arguing that this is an issue of quality rather than safety. According to Zoie Jones, communications officer at the WFP, the “test results found the rice [to be] perfectly safe and edible but had a slightly higher percentage (32pc) of broken rice” than the standard 25 percent.

Jones said the WFP had now replaced the remaining five metric tonnes of rice and asked the Nepal’s Centre for Quality Surveillance, a private laboratory, to check its quality.

This is not the first time the agency has come under fire for distributing inedible rice. In 2011, the WFP was blamed for the deaths of 300 people in Jajarkot after the rice the UN body distributed then was linked to a diarrhoea outbreak.

Published: 27-05-2015 07:01

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