WFP apologizes over food shortage report

The local head of the World Food Program has apologized to Prime Minister Hun Sen after the premier accused the WFP of falsely saying Cambodia was at risk of a food shortage, according to a Khmer translation of the apology released yesterday by the Information Ministry.

Jean-Pierre de Margerie, country director for the WFP, apologized for not updating the UN organization’s website, which he said was the source of the food shortage claim.

“The WFP would like to apologize for not updating information published on its website,” the translated letter reads, adding that “WFP regards Cambodia as in food surplus and has updated the website.”

“The WFP values its good relationship with the royal government of Cambodia and would like to express regret for any deed or statement that affects a good relationship,” it reads.

WFP communications officer Rosaleen Martin confirmed in an e-mail yesterday that the WFP “apologized for some outdated information regarding the food security situation.”

Mr Hun Sen lashed out at the WFP on Dec 9, claiming a WFP official warned of a food shortage in a radio interview. Mr de Margerie said at the time that no WFP official had made such a claim.

The translated letter from Mr de Margerie was dated Saturday, one day after WFP employee Seng Kunakar was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets. It does not mention Mr Kunakar, whose conviction Sunday for incitement has been criticized by rights groups.

Ms Martin said the letter was “separate and unrelated to the arrest and conviction of Mr Seng Kunakar,” adding that the “matter continues to be under close review” by the WFP and UN.

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