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$24 million needed for food distribution to 2 million in Burundi, UN agency says

$24 million needed for food distribution to 2 million in Burundi, UN agency says

In the run-up to Burundi's post-conflict elections taking place between June and September, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said it will be forced to slash food distribution and economic development programmes for 2 million Burundians suffering through a drought unless it gets another $24 million.

"While some food distributions have already been postponed or cancelled, starting in early June WFP will have to cut by 50 per cent its maize rations. In addition, all food-for-work activities which support local development will be suspended. By August, all other food aid commodities will be reduced" and by September all the food stocks will have run out, the agency said.

WFP said its representatives in Burundi would focus on life-saving activities, such as therapeutic feeding for malnourished mothers and children, but even those programmes would be reduced without additional funds.

Some 40.5 tons of food were urgently needed to assist 2 million Burundians until December, it said. In addition, more than 90,000 Burundian refugees were expected to return soon to their homelands and have been relying heavily on WFP assistance.

The food rations keeping nearly a million farmers in Burundi from having to eat their seeds instead of planting them were also at risk, it said.

"War has robbed plenty of Burundians of their homes and livelihoods. We have to do everything we can to make sure the assistance we provide meets their basic needs and support the return to peace. Otherwise, peace and democracy will just remain empty concepts," WFP's Zlatan Milisic said.