Distribution of food aid to more than 1.5 million survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka will be extended to 2007, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
In a statement, it said food aid would be phased out in the Maldives and Somalia by the year-end. Tsunami relief operations in Myanmar and Thailand were wrapped up in mid-2005, it added.
Initially, food was provided to all people affected by the December 26 tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province and Sri Lanka. Now the agency was concentrating on people having trouble rebuilding their lives, the WFP said.
Aid would be provided to approximately 1.2 million people in Indonesia, and another 347,000 in Sri Lanka, the statement said.
"We will maintain our commitment to the tsunami survivors by providing help to those communities that most need it," said Anthony Banbury, WFP Regional Director for Asia.
"WFP will focus assistance on the most vulnerable: children, new mothers, the elderly and displaced people. We will be there until people are back on their feet and have regained the livelihoods they lost."
A 9.15 magnitude earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, the world's strongest in four decades, triggered a massive tsunami.
With no warning systems in place, the waves killed as many as 232,000 people in a dozen Indian Ocean nations and left more than a million homeless. Aceh was hardest hit and about 170,000 people were killed or left missing there.
In Sri Lanka, the tsunami killed nearly 40,000 people.
In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, assistance would increasingly focus on long-term recovery rather than free food, the U.N. agency said.
At the peak of operations in May, WFP provided food aid to 2.24 million people in six countries across the tsunami zone, it said.