Published: Wednesday 15 December 1999

The United Nations has decided to prepare a US $50-million action plan for the cyclone-affected areas of Orissa. A grade 5 cyclone hit the state on October 29. The super-cyclone ravaged numerous villages, killed thousands and rendering many homeless. Many villages still are submerged and can only be reached via boats. The Indian army, navy and the air force are distributing food, clothes and medicines to the affected people. There are reports of food riots in many places and the affected people are not happy with the quantity of relief distributed to them till now. The preliminary damage is being estimated at Rs 10,000 crore.

The UN action plan includes immediate relief as well as reconstruction and long-term operations in the affected districts. "Our main concern is for the people, half of whom are below the poverty line," said UNICEF representative Alan Court. "More than half of the children are underweight and the immediate concern was to prevent the affected 12 districts from lapsing into malnutrition. More than 350,000 people have already been supplied with around 240 tonnes of biscuits. Supplies of pre-cooked food are being distributed with the help of angawadi workers," he said.

The number of people going hungry in the developing world has fallen by 40 million in five years, but faster action is needed to meet an international pledge to halve world hunger by 2015, the United Nations said in a report presented at a meeting in Rome recently.

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