Funding shortfall forces UN agency to cut food to 230,000 refugees in Kenya

14 March 2006

Insufficient funding has forced the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce rations to 230,000 Somali and Sudanese refugees in northeast Kenya, even as it struggles to fill a $170-million shortfall in its operations to feed 3.5 million Kenyans affected by severe drought.

Insufficient funding has forced the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce rations to 230,000 Somali and Sudanese refugees in northeast Kenya, even as it struggles to fill a $170-million shortfall in its operations to feed 3.5 million Kenyans affected by severe drought.

“Our lack of funding has given us little choice. Starting this week, the refugees will be receiving a food ration equivalent to 1,750 kilocalories per day, that’s a 20 per cent decrease in their daily intake,” WFP Kenya Country Director Tesema Negash said today. “This cut will enable us to extend the limited food currently available over the next few months.”

Without fresh pledges, WFP will run out of pulses this month, cereals and vegetable oil in May, and corn soya blend in June. WFP Kenya requires $5 million to provide adequate rations for refugees between now and July and an additional $14 million until the end of the year.

“Given the escalation in needs across much of the Horn of Africa due to regional drought, donors are already stretched. If these ration cuts for refugees continue, we may see not only increasing insecurity within and around the camps as people clash over limited resources, but also rising malnutrition rates - which are already unacceptably high,” Mr. Negash warned.

Last week, WFP said the death toll among 3.5 million Kenyans in need of emergency assistance could rise in the coming months unless donations to head off a disaster arrived soon. That operation is 75 per cent under-funded.

Even as the agency struggles to meet its aid needs in Africa, which has already received the attention of the media and humanitarian community, WFP is calling for a greater focus on the persistent problems of the world’s refugees elsewhere.

WFP is aiming to feed 1.7 million refugees this year and is facing major challenges in raising sufficient funds. As an example it pointed to Azerbaijan where it helps 130,000 people displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia. Lack of funding brought its food assistance to a complete halt in September and ongoing shortfalls are expected until the end of June.

Since 1994, WFP has been pivotal in assisting hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced by the conflict which saw 600,000 people fleeing the region.

 

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