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Shortage Of Funds Forces WFP To Reduce Food Rations For Refugees In Kenya

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have announced that beginning on 1 November, WFP will be forced to reduce food rations for more than half a million refugees in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps due to lack of resources.

“We have done everything possible to avoid this, but it has become necessary to reduce ration sizes by 20 percent in November and December in order to stretch our existing food stocks to last through the end of the year,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s country director for Kenya. “We hope this will be a temporary measure as we appeal to donors to come to the assistance of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who rely on WFP to meet their daily food needs.”

Sibanda thanked the donors who have generously supported WFP’s refugee operations in Kenya, noting that the agency has taken major strides to improve the efficiency of its assistance programme and ensure that only eligible refugees receive food rations. While this has resulted in some reduction in the monthly food requirements, WFP needs about US$10 million every month to distribute more than 10,000 metric tons of food to refugees in the two camps in northern Kenya.

While reduced rations will allow food distributions to continue for the 535,000 camp-based refugees through the end of the year, further cuts may be necessary if no additional resources become available, as food stocks will be nearly exhausted by January.

“We believe that the international community understands the importance of continuing this vital food lifeline for the refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma,” said Raouf Mazou, the UNHCR representative for Kenya. “We are concerned that a reduction in rations could have a negative impact on the health and nutrition of refugees who rely on the food assistance.”

WFP’s refugee operation in Kenya has faced severe funding challenges over the last year.

A recently confirmed contribution of US$20 million from the United States is expected to be available for distribution of food from the beginning of March 2014, but WFP will require an additional US$20 million for January and February to cover a gap in critical food and nutrition assistance to refugees, the majority of whom have no other source of food.

The 20 percent reduction in ration sizes means that refugees will not receive the World Health Organization’s minimum recommended energy requirements of 2,100 kilocalories per day and will instead get 1,680 kilocalories. WFP urges donors to respond to its urgent appeal as quickly as possible in order to meet the nutritional requirements of this vulnerable group.

WFP has been providing food assistance, consisting of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt, to thousands of refugees from across the region since the camps in Dadaab and Kakuma were established more than 20 years ago.

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About WFP:
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.  Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
www.wfp.org  Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media and @wfp_africa

About UNHCR:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN refugee agency, was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives.
www.unhcr.org -  @refugees – @refugeesmedia

Press Contacts:
WFP (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Rose Ogola, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. + 254 20 762 2301, Mob. +254 707 722 161
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2179, Mob. +254 707 722 104
Clar Ni Chonghaile, WFP Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 762 2336, Mob. +254 707 722 105

UNHCR:
Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, in Nairobi,  mobile +254 737 56 40 22
Mans Nyberg, in Dadaab, mobile +254 704 807 205