UN seeks $266mln to bring food to 3 million refugees in East Africa

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(Ecofin Agency) – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) launched a joint tender to raise $266 million to provide food aid to refugees in East Africa. In a March 2 statement, the United Nations said the initiative aims to increase the food rations granted to more than 3 million people in East Africa.

As a reminder, due to insufficient resources to meet refugee needs, the UN agencies were recently forced to reduce food rations by about 60%. The measure affected all 11 countries covered by UNHCR but mainly Kenya (40%), Tanzania (32%), Uganda (40%), Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, and Djibouti. In addition to the reduction in food rations, refugees have also suffered the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Director of the UNHCR Regional Office for the East, Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the pandemic was disastrous for everyone, but more so for refugees. The lockdown measures and other restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus have had consequences such as the reduction of food stocks and the closure of supply markets with many people losing their jobs.

Nkweta-Salami said if more funds are not made available, thousands of refugees, including children, will not have enough to eat. The funds will enable the WFP, but also the UNHCR to provide the food and financial assistance needed by the refugees in the camps. The main objective, according to the WFP, is to restore at least a minimal level of assistance to refugees, many of whom have lost the source of income that was remittances from their relatives, due to the global impact of the pandemic.

The armed conflicts, crackdowns, and various war crimes that forced refugees to flee are still ongoing in East Africa. Somalia, for example, is still torn by the violence that pushes many civilians to flee.