by Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Two UN agencies on
Monday warned that critical shortages in food assistance are
affecting some two million refugees in ten African countries.
In a joint statement, the World Food Programme (WFP) and United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the
shortages could worsen in coming months without new resources to
meet food needs.
"The right to food is a basic human right. We are working
with WFP to ensure that no refugee goes to sleep hungry, but
support has to come quickly," UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in
The agencies said food rations have been dramatically cut—in
some cases by up to 50 percent—in large operations including
Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mauritania, South Sudan and Uganda.
The two agency heads said refugees in Burkina Faso, Djibouti,
Burundi and Ethiopia have had specific commodities cut including
micronutrient fortified blended foods, needed to ensure an
adequate quality diet.
"Refugees are extraordinarily resilient, but cuts in food
assistance—sometimes as high as 50 percent—are having a
devastating impact on the health and nutrition of thousands of
families," said Grandi.
UNHCR and WFP are concerned that sustained cuts to food
assistance will have severe nutrition and protection-related
consequences as refugees try to cope by skipping meals, pulling
their children out of schools to stay at home or work and
selling family assets.
According to the UNHCR, the number of refugees in Africa
nearly doubled from 2.6 million in 2011 to nearly 5 million in
The two agency heads warned that food shortages will have
dire consequences on the health and protection of vulnerable
people, unless more support is urgently made available.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said donors have been
very generous facing unprecedented global needs but added that
no refugee deserves to be abandoned and left behind.
"Millions of refugees depend on WFP food and our work to
treat and prevent malnutrition to stay alive. But in Africa they
are in danger of being overshadowed by large humanitarian crises
elsewhere," said Cousin.
The agencies said nutritional situation of these refugees
before the cuts to food assistance was already worrying and is