Children from Bunia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have a meal at the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima district in Western Uganda, March 25, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
KAMPALA - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) Tuesday announced that it is forced to reduce food rations to almost 150,000 refugees living in Uganda because of insufficient funding.
The refugees affected are those who arrived in Uganda before July 2013 -- nearly half of all refugees receiving WFP food assistance in Uganda.About 138,000 refugees who fled South Sudan since the fight broke out in December 2013 and those identified as extremely vulnerable individuals by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are not included.
The ration cut, which began on Tuesday, came as the agency struggled to raise an additional $30 million for its operations in the East African country for the next six months, said WFP in a statement
"Without the reduction, WFP would run out of food stocks for all refugees in Uganda from April. The last time the amount of food given to refugees in Uganda was cut was from January to March last year," stated the statement.
"Reducing rations is the last resort to ensure we can continue providing life-saving support for the most vulnerable refugees," claimed Alice Martin-Daihirou, WFP Country Director.
"We urgently need more funding to restore full assistance to people in Uganda who have no means to feed themselves," he added .
If WFP fails to receive substantial contributions in the coming months, the cuts could last for the next six months or longer and possibly affect the new South Sudanese refugees.
Under a government scheme, refugees are allocated plots of land to build a shelter and grow food. However, an assessment in late 2014 by the government, WFP, UNHCR and the United Nations Children's Fund found that more than half of all refugee families affected by the ration cuts had a poor harvest.
"With the cuts factored in, there is a high risk that these refugees will experience stress in the first quarter of 2015 as their food stocks run low," noted the WFP statement.
WFP requires $7.6 million each month to support an estimated 383,000 refugees this year. The influx of South Sudanese refugees in the last 13 months has tripled the monthly funding requirement.