KAMPALA – Almost 150,000 refugees living in Uganda are receiving from today reduced rations from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as a result of insufficient funding, according to WFP.
The ration cut of 50 percent, which began today, came as WFP struggles to raise an additional US$30 million for its operations in Uganda for the next six months.
Those affected are people who arrived in Uganda before July 2013 – nearly half of all refugees receiving WFP food assistance in Uganda. It does not include 138,000 refugees who fled South Sudan since fighting broke out there in December 2013. Also exempt are extremely vulnerable individuals identified by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
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 January to March last year.
“Reducing rations is a last resort to ensure we can continue providing life-saving support for the most vulnerable refugees,” said WFP Country Director, Alice Martin-Daihirou. “We urgently need more funding to restore full assistance to people in Uganda who have no means to feed themselves.”
If WFP fails to receive substantial contributions in the coming months, the cuts could last for the next six months or longer and possibly even affect the new South Sudanese refugees.
Refugees have been notified through information sessions supported by UNHCR, WFP and the government.
Today’s announcement came at a particularly vulnerable time for refugees in Uganda. 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 UNICEF found that more than half of all refugee families due to be 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.
WFP requires US$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.
In 2014, WFP received support from (in alphabetical order) the European Commission, France, Japan, the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the United Kingdom, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and the United States.