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Food & Hunger

The UN Is Cutting Food Rations to Kenyan Refugees by 30% Because of Funding

Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

The United Nations does not have enough money to maintain food rations for refugees in Kenya, it announced this week.

The World Food Programme, the UN’s food relief arm, will cut rations by 30% for the more than 400,000 refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, many of whom have fled war and violence in Somalia and South Sudan.

The rations usually consist of cereals, produce pulses, vegetable oil, and nutrient-enriched flour, according to the WFP. The organization also sends cash transfers via cell phones to recipients so refugees can buy fresh food items in their local markets.

The cash transfers won’t be affected by the funding shortfall, but the WFP will reduce the amount of food it can deliver to refugees.

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“Cutting rations is a last resort and we hope that it is only a short-term measure as we continue to appeal to the international community to assist,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Annalisa Conte.

“An abrupt halt to food assistance would be devastating for the refugees, most of whom rely fully on WFP for their daily meals,” she said.

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The WFP said it would need nearly $29 million in funding over the next six months to avoid making the reduction, it said. If donor countries quickly step up with additional funds, the WFP can quickly mobilize more food to distribute, it said.  

The agency has been stretched thin this year as multiple countries and regions in Africa have faced famine this year. Around 20 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen have faced dire hunger this year.

The WFP receives about $6 billion in funding each year to help feed the world. The United States provides the largest share of that funding, around $2 billion, followed by the European Commission and Germany, which provide a little more than $1 billion each.

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“We are facing a critical shortage of resources which has compelled us to reduce the amount of food given to the refugees only six months after we resumed full rations,” Conte said.

For the rest of the population in Kenya, the WFP will prioritize pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to receive fortified flour in health clinics, it said.