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Call For Funds To Prevent Cut In Refugee Rations

UN Calls For Urgent Funds To Prevent Cut In Rations


New York, Dec 8 2004 10:00AM

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that it would be forced to drastically cut food rations for 118,000 refugees in camps in Ethiopia, unless donations of $4.2 million are made urgently to provide enough food for at least the next six months.

“When rations are reduced, the health of beneficiaries deteriorates; young children, women and the elderly in particular, become more vulnerable to malaria,” WFP Country Director Georgia Shaver said in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “When epidemics occur, mortality rates are much higher than in normal circumstances, when refugees are properly fed.”

WFP said it needed an additional 8,500 tons of cereals, vegetable oil, pulses, salt and blended foods. If new contributions are not forthcoming, it will have to reduce rations by 30 per cent from January. Cereal stocks are expected to run out by next April.

This cut would lower nutritional intake from the recommended 2,100 kilocalories per person per day to 1,500 kilocalories. Cereals comprise almost 80 per cent of the daily food consumed by the refugees, 90 percent of whom are from Sudan, with the remainder from Somalia and Eritrea.

The shortfall could also delay the repatriation of 6,500 Somali refugees currently in eastern Ethiopia. Without funding, WFP cannot provide them with a repatriation food package before their departure.

The agency stressed that with the exception of vegetable oil, the commodities could be purchased quickly locally if donors provided cash rather than in-kind contributions. WFP has so far received $3.4 million of the $26.7 million it needs to assist the refugees in Ethiopia through the 12 months from January.

On a brighter note WFP has announced plans to dramatically increase the amount of food aid purchased in Zambia as long as there is another substantial surplus in 2005. This year, with a dramatic turn around in production and an excellent harvest, WFP was able to buy 80,000 tons of food at a cost of $16.2 million in Zambia, far more than any other country in the region, including South Africa.

“Zambia has become an essential source of food for WFP’s aid operations in southern Africa and we are intending to buy even more food in the country next year,” WFP Country Director David Stevenson said. “However, our plans depend not only on the size of the harvest but also on the cash donations we receive.”

Some 46 per cent of the food purchased in Zambia has been distributed to needy beneficiaries within the country, with the rest exported to neighbouring countries.

2004-12-08 00:00:00.000

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