NAIROBI – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today for US$266 million to end food ration cuts for over 3 million refugees in Eastern Africa. Funding shortages have forced cuts up to 60 per cent. The agencies warned of growing risks including increased malnutrition and anaemia, stunted child growth and a myriad of protection risks.
The impact of the funding shortfalls on refugee families is compounded by COVID-19 lockdowns and measures to contain the pandemic’s spread, which had already reduced the availability of food in markets in refugee camps and wrecked many refugees’ hopes of helping to support their families through casual labour and small businesses.
“The pandemic has been devastating for everyone, but for refugees even more so.” said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Bureau Director for the East, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes. “Unless more funds are made available, thousands of refugees including children will not have enough to eat.”
“Protection concerns are growing. Food ration or cash cuts are resulting in negative coping strategies to meet their basic food needs – such as skipping or reducing meals, taking loans with high interest, selling assets, child labour, and increased domestic violence. There is often a desperation and a feeling of no alternative,” she said.
“We must start meeting the food and nutritional needs of refugees in the region now,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa. “The immediate priority for us all must be to restore assistance to at least minimum levels for refugees, many of whom lost the lifeline of remittances due to the global impact of COVID-19.”
“We’ve never had such a terrible funding situation for refugees. We have a US$266 million shortfall for the next six months for refugees’ minimum needs. We are deeply concerned that if cuts continue, they will be faced with a very difficult decision: stay in the camps where food and nutrition security is deteriorating or consider risking going back when it is unsafe.”
In the 11 countries covered by UNHCR’s Bureau for the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, 72 per cent of 4.7 million refugees face food cuts on top of funding shortfalls already for UNHCR’s non-food assistance and support.
Funding shortfalls have forced WFP to slash its monthly assistance for refugees by up to 60 per cent in Rwanda, 40 per cent in Uganda and Kenya, 30 per cent in South Sudan, 23 per cent in Djibouti and 16 per cent in Ethiopia.
Almost 140,000 refugees and asylum seekers live in Rwanda, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. WFP supports 138,000 refugees in camps and 12,500 children from the host community who attend the same schools as refugees and receive school meals. The 60 per cent cut is unprecedented and will only worsen food insecurity.
WFP predominantly supports refugees in Rwanda with cash transfers so relatively little additional funding could reverse the cuts. WFP needs US$11 million to provide refugees in Rwanda with full cash or food rations through August.
In Kenya, WFP has reduced food rations for 417,000 refugees by 40 per cent. WFP needs US$61 million to provide full food and nutrition assistance to refugees from March through August. In Tanzania, WFP rations for 280,000 refugees are cut by 32 per cent of the minimum recommended kilocalorie requirement. WFP needs US$17 million for refugees in Tanzania through August.
Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and in February WFP cut food assistance to 1.27 million refugees by 40 per cent of the basic survival ration. US$77 million is needed through August to provide full rations. In South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, WFP requires US$82 million to provide full assistance through August for almost 1 million refugees.
Only refugees in Burundi and Sudan are receiving full rations. They need a total of US$18 million through August.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_Africa
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, protects people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We work in over 130 countries, protecting millions of people by responding with life-saving support, safeguarding fundamental human rights and helping them build a better future.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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