Aid effort will reach up to two million

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The Independent Online

The arrival of aid is beginning to make a real impact on the crying need of South Asia. By this weekend, for example, at least some food and other emergency supplies will have been delivered to every one of the 750,000 people in need in Sri Lanka.

The UN has begun a mammoth effort to feed up to two million survivors of the earthquake-tsunami disaster for six months, prioritising pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children.

The operation to feed survivors for six months is likely to cost US$180m (£96m), according to the World Food Programme's executive director, James Morris.

The WFP workers will distribute emergency rations of staples such as rice and beans to countries around the Indian Ocean rim.

"We are able today to feed 750,000 people in Sri Lanka," Mr Morris said in Jakarta. "We are feeding something more than 150,000 in Indonesia. That number in a matter of ... days will go to 300,000; [in] a matter of five, six, seven days it will go to 400,000 and, depending on the extent of the damage, the numbers here could go as high as a million. I'm hopeful that will not be the case."

World governments and aid agencies have pledged more than $5bn in aid. Corporations and the public have promised a further $1.2bn in an unprecedented response to the widest-ranging natural calamity in living memory.

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