Retired gymnast and the World Food Programme (WFP) ambassador Li Ning Thursday said he would pay for five humanitarian flights to bring food and other relief materials to earthquake-stricken Haiti.
The Olympic gold medalist said the donation of 1 million yuan ($146,500) would cover the cost of the flights from Panama to Port-Au-Prince, capital of the Caribbean nation.
"It's heartbreaking to see such a huge loss in Haiti. It reminds me of the terrible earthquake in our country in May 2008," said the 46-year-old businessman successful in China's huge sportswear market.
"The Chinese people and the world rallied then to help the people affected and now it's time to do the same for Haiti," Li said.
Li Ning was named the first Chinese anti-hunger ambassador for the UN World Food Programme last year. He joined other WFP ambassadors including U.S. actress Drew Barrymore to appeal for international aid to Haiti, which was devastated by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake on January 12.
"WFP is very touched by the generosity of Li Ning and so many Chinese people," said Anthea Webb, director of the UN agency's China Office.
WFP was able to start providing aid within 24 hours of the earthquake and has now distributed more than 1 million emergency food rations in Haiti, the agency said in a statement.
It appeals for $280 million for the next six months and plans to feed 2 million people affected by the quake.
In China, WFP is cooperating with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation to raise funds for the aid effort. Information on how to donate can be found at www.fupin.org.cn.
(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2010)