Food shortages, malnutrition threaten refugees in Kenya, WFP warns

20 February 2002

Nearly 220,000 refugees living in Kenya face malnutrition and a wider humanitarian crisis unless urgent contributions are received to bolster the programme that feeds them, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

Nearly 220,000 refugees living in Kenya face malnutrition and a wider humanitarian crisis unless urgent contributions are received to bolster the programme that feeds them, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

In a statement issued from Nairobi, the agency urgently appealed for the international community to come forward with donations to cover 11,000 tonnes of food needed to prevent any further deterioration of the nutritional situation of the refugee population in the Kakuma and Dadaab camps in the northern part of the country.

WFP said during all of last year the shortage of funds for refugees in Kenya was a constant, and that it had to repeatedly resort to reducing food rations, which have been cut by more than 30 percent, from 2,166 kilocalories to 1,400 kilocalories. Should more donations not come forward, further reductions are expected, endangering the lives of the most vulnerable refugees.

“We simply cannot give what we don’t have,” said Tesema Negash, WFP Representative in Kenya. “We have a commitment to provide the refugees with a basic food supply – failure to do so could seriously threaten their health and well-being.”

There are some 219,000 refugees in Kenya, the majority of whom are from the Sudan and Somalia and almost totally dependent on food aid. WFP said it needed about 3,900 tonnes of food per month to assist the refugee population.

The number of refugees in Kenya has increased substantially since 1999 due to the continued insecurity in neighbouring Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. New arrivals are reported on a daily basis and the numbers continue to swell, according to WFP.

The camps are located in remote, poor and arid areas where other sources of food are almost non-existent. Job opportunities, agricultural activity, and raising livestock are also restricted, and refugees rely almost entirely on food aid and other relief items for their daily survival. WFP expressed concern about the hardship the refugees will face due to lack of food, and with the resulting tension that hunger might cause in the camps.

 

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