CAPE TOWN,Across Africa, some two million refugees are facing critical shortages in food assistance, the United Nations warns.

Refugee operations in 10 African countries have experienced funding cuts, affecting the quantity and quality of food assistance for approximately two million refugees, according to a joint media statement issued Monday by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Millions of refugees depend on WFP food and our work to treat and prevent malnutrition from staying alive. But in Africa they are in danger of being overshadowed by large humanitarian crises elsewhere,” WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin was quoted as saying in the statement.

Food rations have been dramatically cut, in some cases by up to 50 per cent, in large operations including those in Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mauritania, South Sudan and Uganda while refugees in Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Burundi and Ethiopia have experienced specific commodity cuts, including of micro-nutrient fortified blended foods, which are needed to ensure an adequate quality diet.

“We can’t imagine how difficult life is for thousands of refugee families with no food, and often denied the possibility to work or provide for themselves in other ways,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“Refugees are extraordinarily resilient, but cuts in food assistance, sometimes as high as 50 per cent, are having a devastating impact on the health and nutrition of thousands of families.”

The number of refugees in Africa nearly doubled from 2.6 million in 2011 to nearly five million in 2016. While donor funding for refugee assistance increased during this period, it did not keep pace with rapidly rising needs and as a result, the humanitarian response is significantly under-funded.


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