The UN food agency said Tuesday it is to deliver emergency aid to nearly 500,000 people in Cuba, describing Hurricane Sandy as the worst natural disaster to hit the southeastern part of the island in 50 years.
"Hurricane Sandy was the worst catastrophe in 50 years in Santiago de Cuba," World Food Programme spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.
At the request of the Cuban authorities, Byrs said the food agency planned to distribute one-month rations to people "as quickly as possible" in Santiago de Cuba in the southeast of the country where the damage is worst.
More than one million people were affected by Hurricane Sandy, which killed 11 people and damaged more than 188,000 homes when it tore across eastern Cuba on October 25.
The natural disaster also ravaged nearly 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of crops, according to a UN report, while the WFP said 12,700 tonnes of food stocks were destroyed in the storm.
The agency also expressed concern for damage to livestock facilities.
"We are going to help these people without shelter and without anything at all," Byrs said, while WFP Emergency Coordinator William Vigil said in a statement that the humanitarian assistance "will help people continue until production capacities are restored."
Also on Tuesday, the WFP appealed for $20 million (15.7 million euros) to help 425,000 Haitians affected by Hurricane Sandy.
According to the latest reports from the WFP, nearly two million people face food insecurity in the impoverished Caribbean country, which had already succumbed to an earthquake and drought before Sandy hit.
© 2012 AFP
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