World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) Appeal for Funding to Continue Feeding over 750,000 Refugees in Ethiopia – African Business

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The United Nations World Food Programme, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Ethiopian Government Refugees and Returnes Service(RRS) all appealed today to US$73m for food rations to over 750,000 Ethiopian refugees over six months. The three agencies warn that WFP will run out of food for refugees in October, leaving vulnerable families without food assistance at greater risk of malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, disease/infection, and increased protection risks.

WFP has been forced to cut rations to 750,000 registered refugees in 22 camps and five sites within the Afar, Amhara Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella Somali, Tigray and Tigray regions of Ethiopia due to protracted funding shortages.  

In November 2015, food rations for Ethiopian refugees were cut by 16 percent, 40 percent, and 50 percent respectively. As a result, food insecurity among refugees has increased. It is further compounded today by global food shortages, economic shocks rising costs, rising energy prices, COVID-19, conflict, and insecurity.

WFP, UNHCR, and RRS conducted an April rapid assessment of 1,215 households living in camps in Afar, Gambella, Beneshangul–Gumuz, and Somalia to understand the impact of ration cutting on food security and the socio-economic situation for refugees.

The results showed that more households were still using negative coping strategies, such as reducing the number and choice of meals, eating less expensive or less popular foods, and limiting the amount of meals they eat. More households were found to engage in demeaning activities, such as engaging children in income-generating activities like the collection and sale or firewood. Many also borrowed money, depending on their relatives or friends for food. This forces refugees to rely upon the resources of the host community and the environment they live in, increasing the likelihood of resource-based conflict between refugees and host communities.

To alleviate further suffering, more resources must be mobilized immediately to meet the immediate food and nonfood needs of refugees. Similar investments should also be made to support sustainable food solutions as part of the Global Compact for Refugees.[1] and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF)[2] for refugees and hosting communities through livelihoods and cash programmes, in line with the UNHCR and RRS strategies. WFP and its partner organizations continue to prioritize the needs children aged 6 to 23, and pregnant and nursing women in the undernutrition prevention program (blanket Supplemental Feeding). 

“Three quarters of a million refugees will be left with nothing to eat in just a matter of weeks unless we receive funding immediately,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Representative and Country Director for Ethiopia.

“The priority for us all must be to restore assistance to at least minimum levels for refugees, all of whom are solely reliant on WFP’s cash and food assistance for survival.”

“We have a shortfall of US$73 million for refugees’ minimum needs and we are deeply concerned that if funding cuts continue, they may consider returning to their places of origin when it is unsafe.”

WFP will purchase food from the region and transport it to the refugee camps if there is an immediate response by donors. WFP will also transfer cash directly to refugees, giving them the freedom to choose how they want to help their immediate needs.

“We are very concerned about the lack of food for refugees. The continued lack of full rations for refugees, coupled with the impact of the most severe drought that the country has experienced in over 40 years, will greatly undermine the gains made in refugee protection and risk impacting the peaceful co-existence between refugees and their host communities,” said UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Ethiopia, Margaret Atieno. “We are grateful for what donors have provided so far, but more funding is needed and quickly.” 

“Ethiopia, with its progressive refugee policy and commitments, has been striving to ensure the sustainable self-reliance of refugees and host communities with its scarce resources, struggling with recurrent funding gaps from the international community. The subsequent deduction of the overall humanitarian assistance fund for refugees in Ethiopia in recent years has not only affected the immediate basic needs of refugees, but also hindered the long-term intended sustainable self-reliance and co-existence of refugees and host communities.” said RRS Director General, Tesfahun Gobezay.

“The ongoing resource constraints create conflict and stress due to competition over the existing scarce local resources. The recent 50 percent reduction in food and cash assistance to refugees of the minimum recommended standard and persistent budget cuts severely affect the lives of refugees. They are exposed to chronic hunger, anemia, sexual exploitation and deaths. In Ethiopia, more than 85 per cent of refugees are completely dependent on WFP food aid rations. This will drawback the positive development of Ethiopia towards ensuring the self-reliance and co-existence of refugees and host communities and above all make the entire life-saving efforts difficult.”

WFP and UNHCR continue to prioritize the food needs and RRS have created an effective system to identify and track the food assistance needs of refugees using biometric verification. This allows for accountability and the entitlement to food and cash assistance. The three agencies are calling on all partners to strengthen efforts to address both the medium and long-term food needs of refugees, in line with the Government of Ethiopia’s 2019 Refugee Proclamation, and the commitments contained in the GCR and the CRRF. 

Ethiopia is home to more than a million refugees and asylum-seekers.  Many of them are from Sudan, Somalia Eritrea, Eritrea, and South Sudan. Around 750,000 are completely dependent on humanitarian food aid. RRS is ensuring that cash and food assistance to refugees is distributed in a more transparent and accountable manner, in accordance with the biometric data. RRS will ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers have access to biometric (level 3) registration to meet their protection and assistance needs.

WFP, UNHCR, and RRS continue to rely on the donor community to provide extended funding support to refugees based upon the principle of shared accountability to implement basic humanitarian life-saving actions.

Distributed by APO Group, World Food Programme (WFP)

APO has issued this Press Release. The content is not under the control of African Business. It has not been validated or checked by our editorial teams, proof-readers or fact-checkers. This announcement is solely the responsibility of the issuer.

Source: african.business

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