ROME – Millions of refugees envision a future of uncertainty and hunger as the effects of the pandemic on aid budgets translate into funding shortages for emergency operations, warned the World Food Program (WFP ) of the United Nations before World Refugee Day.
Large funding gaps in East and Southern Africa as well as the Middle East have forced some of the world’s most vulnerable people to depend on WFP food for their survival. In East Africa alone, nearly three-quarters of refugees have seen their rations cut by up to 50 percent. In southern Africa, refugees in Tanzania who depend entirely on WFP assistance have seen their rations cut by almost a third. Significant funding shortages for the regional refugee response in Syria mean that 242,000 refugees in Jordan could be cut off from assistance by the end of August, unless more funding is received.
“What we may be seeing is the impact of COVID-19 on funding from donor governments and this is negatively impacting our ability to respond to and support some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” he said. WFP Emergency Director Margot van der Velden said. “The lives of the world’s most marginalized people are at stake and we urge donors not to turn their backs on refugees when they need them most.
To avoid any reduction in food aid – whether through reduced rations or the total exclusion of people from assistance – sufficient funding is needed at least one month before the expected disruption of the food flow to refugee host countries.
Growing funding gaps intersect with rising food prices and fewer opportunities for refugees to supplement their food aid as informal economies contract due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the number of people in desperate need of it grows around the world as conflicts, disasters and economic collapses increase hunger levels. WFP and other humanitarian agencies are faced with brutal choices. In Rwanda, WFP has deployed targeted food assistance, prioritizing those who need it most. Despite this, funding is so short that even the most vulnerable still do not receive full rations, which take the form of cash assistance.
“During the lockdown related to COVID-19, we couldn’t leave the camp and we couldn’t earn anything because all occasional work outside the camp had stopped,” said Ange, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) living in Rwanda. “The situation worsened when our food intake was reduced. My family began to face a severe food shortage.
Some of WFP’s most underfunded operations are also those with large refugee populations in need of support. For example, in Uganda, WFP supports more than 1.2 million refugees, or 65 percent of the country’s operations. A country funding gap of over 80 percent has had significant impacts on refugees who depend on WFP assistance.
Like a new WFP report indicates an increase in the number of people on the brink of famine – from 34 million predicted at the start of the year to 41 million predicted in June – it is vital that the world comes together to support the most vulnerable.
WFP operations in favor of refugees affected by lack of funding:
Chad: New influxes of refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) mean that WFP may be forced to implement ration cuts and suspend / prioritize activities that will affect vulnerable groups depending on support. of WFP, especially malnourished children.
Cameroon: WFP could have to reduce the food rations of the most vulnerable beneficiaries, including 70,000 Nigerians and 100,000 Central African refugees.
Democratic Republic of Congo: In 2021, WFP supported around 148,000 refugees based in camps in the DRC, including the recent influx of around 92,000 refugees from CAR. Since May 2020, WFP DRC has applied an average of 25% reduction in rations to its refugee assistance program.
** East Africa: ** Lack of funding has forced up to 60% to cut rations for more than 3 million refugees. Rations were reduced by 50% in South Sudan, 40% in Uganda and Kenya, 23% in Djibouti, 16% in Ethiopia and 8% in Rwanda.
Malawi: As part of its response to the refugees, WFP Malawi deployed cash transfers and initiated livelihood support activities to strengthen the self-reliance of refugees. However, the lack of funding has led to a reduction in rations by 25% since July 2020.
Republic of Congo : WFP is helping more than 20,000 Central African refugees. Significant shortages have meant that food distribution cycles have been irregular.
Syrian Refugee Region: In the five countries where WFP supports Syrian refugees, $ 408 million is needed for the next six months.
- In Jordan, at least 21,000 refugees will no longer receive WFP food assistance as of July 1. If no additional funding materializes, WFP will have to eliminate 242,000 additional refugees by the end of August. About 220,000 extremely vulnerable refugees in camps and communities will continue to receive WFP assistance until September.
- In Egypt, WFP, through joint targeting with UNHCR, plans to prioritize assistance to 110,000 people, reducing the number of beneficiaries by 20,000.
Tanzania: WFP’s refugee operation faced significant funding gaps, leading to ration cuts of up to 32 percent of minimum caloric requirements since December 2020.
Photos available here.
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