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Donor Support Lack Threatens Refugee Food Supply

Lack of Donor Support Threatens Food Supplies for 2 Million Refugees – UN

New York, May 18 2005 1:00PM

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the lack of donor support is threatening food supplies for more than 2 million refugees.

With global food aid declining, the agency now urgently needs $315 million to meet the needs of 2.2 million refugees living in camps, with 75 per cent of the sum required for Africa alone.

WFP – the world’s largest relief agency – has already been forced to reduce food rations for refugees in Africa. Without new contributions, the organization said, it will have to resort to more cuts.

“Refugees are among WFP’s most vulnerable beneficiaries and have been hit hard by shortfalls,” said WFP’s Deputy Executive Director John Powell, who was in Geneva yesterday to discuss funding with officials of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

This month, WFP began reducing rations to refugees in Sierra Leone, while provisions for refugees in Guinea and Liberia have also been cut, as only 40 per cent of its $93.5 million appeal for refugees in West Africa has been funded so far, WFP said.

“The reduction of food rations for refugees has a number of negative effects: health deterioration, inadequate nutrition, increases in domestic violence and crime – as well as refugees taking up illegal employment outside the camps to supplement their diets,” said Mr. Powell.

Within a few weeks, WFP will be running out of food for the 60,000 Sudanese refugees and 3,000 newly-arrived Congolese refugees in Uganda following clashes between factions in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A total of 1.4 million people will be affected, including internally displaced, refugees and other vulnerable persons.

“Many of the refugees rely almost entirely on food aid for their survival,” said Mr. Powell. “They are frequently confined to camps where arable land, if available, is scarce and employment opportunities are limited.”

ENDS

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