The United Nations' refugee agency and its food relief programme today appealed to donors to give generously to alleviate a combined $400 million in funding shortages for 2005 that are forcing them to cut back survival rations for refugees in camps across Africa.
WFP said it urgently requires $219 million for its refugee-related operations until the end of 2005. UNHCR, charged with providing protection, assistance and complementary food and non-food items, is also facing an overall shortfall in 2005 – projected at the end of June to be $181.5 million.
In recent months, WFP has been obliged to reduce food rations for hundreds of thousands of refugees in Africa, especially in West Africa and the Great Lakes region.
In Tanzania, for example, WFP has been able to provide only two-thirds of the 2,100 kilocalories needed daily to Tanzania's 400,000 camp refugees for the past 11 months. Although the situation has now slightly improved, additional contributions are urgently needed to prevent further cuts in rations.
In the south of Chad, lack of funds has meant that incomplete food rations for refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), and even those are irregular. The shortage of food for refugees is putting even greater strain on the resources of host populations.
“Refugees in camps and remote settlements are extremely vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition, they rely upon the generosity of their hosts and the international community for the most basic food and other items,” said James Morris, WFP's Executive Director.
“When food becomes scarce, refugees often turn to desperate measures to feed themselves and their families. We are particularly worried about the health of the refugee population, domestic violence and refugees resorting to illegal employment or even to prostitution, just to put enough food on the table,” said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.