19 December 2012

Kenya: WFP Seeks Urgent Assistance for More Than 550,000 Refugees

Nairobi — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for urgent funding to continue providing food assistance as planned to more than 550,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya

"WFP is facing a US$34.5 million shortfall for the next six months, and unless we receive new funding we will run out of food for refugees in February," said WFP Kenya Country Director Ronald Sibanda.

It is important that WFP meet this funding gap as soon as possible so that food for the next six months can be pre-positioned before the onset of the short rains in March, when transporting food to the camps becomes much more challenging.

"Time is short, but if we receive sufficient resources before the end of the year we'll be able to avoid ration cuts and have the necessary food in place before March," Sibanda said. "New contributions will allow us to purchase food here in the region, and to have it delivered and ready to distribute in five to six weeks."

Sibanda thanked the donors who have been supporting WFP refugee operations in Kenya, and noted that WFP requires about US$12 million to feed refugees in the two camps every month.

"The support of our donors has been critical in allowing us to provide food assistance to more than half a million refugees, and we are grateful to many countries who have contributed resources to the operation," Sibanda said. He added that they include Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Zambia, as well as private donors.

The devastating impact of the drought that affected the Horn of Africa in 2011, coupled with conflict in Somalia, forced more than 155,000 Somalis to flee their country last year and seek refuge in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, adding to an already large refugee population.

Dadaab and Kakuma currently house more than 550,000 refugees, which places Kenya among the countries hosting the largest refugee populations in the world. Since the beginning of this year, more than 15,000 new refugees have arrived at the Kakuma refugee camp, most of them from Sudan, South Sudan and, most recently, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

"We are committed to continuing our support for refugees in Kenya, but unless WFP receives new contributions quickly, we might be forced, as a last resort, to reduce ration sizes so our existing food stocks will last longer," said Sibanda.

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