The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that it will reduce monthly food rations for refugees in Uganda to 60 percent starting February next year due to funding gaps.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the agency said it is struggling with funding shortfalls. The agency said US$95.8 million (Shs349 billion) is immediately needed to provide full rations to refugees in Uganda over the next six months.
“Covid-19 must not be an excuse for the world to turn its back on refugees at this terrible time. We appreciate that donors fully funded our refugee operation in Uganda in 2019 but right now we are unable to keep up even basic food assistance and the poorest will suffer the most as we have to cut still further” said WFP Country Director El-Khidir Daloum.
The rations for the refugees was this year reduced by 30 percent in April, which coincided with the Covid-19 lockdown. And in February they face a further 10 percent cut.
The most vulnerable women, children and the elderly are increasingly at risk of becoming malnourished, which can in turn impact their immune systems and make them more likely to be infected by disease, amid a pandemic. The West Nile region, which hosts six refugee settlements, is one of the current Covid-19 hotspots.
The current 30 percent ration cut and the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns are major contributors to hunger in all 13 refugee settlements, according to a recent food assessment survey.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis (for June- December 2020) found that refugees in all 13 settlements faced acute food insecurity.
“WFP commends the Government of Uganda for continuing to host refugees and seeking to meet its obligations under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), opening up access to local services, providing land and allowing greater integration of refugees with local populations,” the press release reads further.
The CRRF outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Uganda. Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa.
The WFP appealed for additional support to support Uganda and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains.