25th September 2020
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UN warns of hunger as food cuts loom for refugees

Author: Jale Richard | Published: Thursday, August 27, 2020

South Sudanese refugees line up for food in a Ugandan camp in 2016. TB claims such will change next month | Credit | Tim Hinchliffe

The United Nations World Food Program has warned that it will soon be forced to cut further food ration in the refugee camps unless urgent additional funding is received in time.

Already, more than 2.7 million refugees in East Africa have been affected by a reduction in food rations and cash transfers, as donors slashed funding due to the impact of coronavirus.

The latest cut was in April 2020 when food rations were reduced by 30 percent.

The countries affected by the reduction in food and cash transfers include Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan and Djibouti.

Activists warn that the food cuts are set to further complicate the lives of hundreds of refugees whose small businesses have been paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic.

WFP highlighted that women, children, and the elderly were the worst-affected by the slash in food rations and cash transfers, heightening the risk of malnutrition among the groups.

Michael Dunford, the Eastern Africa Regional Director for WFP says refugees are especially vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus because they are living in crowded camps with weak or inadequate shelter, health services, and access to clean water and sanitation.

He lamented that children were forced to stay out of school as learning institutions in refugee camps remain shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means that the children miss out on free meals provided in the institutions.

The UN food agency appealed both to traditional donors and potential donors, such as international financial institutions, to step forward and assist refugees, stressing that their vulnerability only increased with the pandemic.

The agency needs some 323 million US dollars to assist refugees in the East Africa region alone over the next six months.

It worries that reducing food rations further would force refugees to move within host communities or even cross borders as they become more desperate to meet their basic needs.

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