THE German government has contributed 2 million Euros ( over 5.3 bn/-) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help maintain food stocks for almost half a million refugees and asylum seekers residing in Tanzania and Rwanda.
According to the German Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Detlef Wächter, the funding was vital as WFP operations in the region were facing critical funding shortages. He said given the importance of the WFP operations in both Tanzania and Rwanda, each country would receive 1 million Euros(over 2.6 bn/-).
Stressing on the urgent need for international support for refugees in both countries, the diplomat said, "Being one of the largest international donors, it is our country's duty to help and support the effort of host countries and international agencies in this humanitarian crisis. We hope our financial support will help WFP to overcome the current critical funding shortage."
In Tanzania, the contribution was meant to purchase maize meal which is included as part of monthly food rations that consist of pulses, salt, vegetable oil and a fortified porridge. For Rwanda, the contribution was meant to purchase maize and beans for monthly food distributions.
According to Ambassador Wachter, WFP Rwanda also purchased fortified porridge, sugar and micronutrient powders to support the most vulnerable people who are in need of a particular diet.
In both countries, WFP provides supplementary food for pregnant and nursing women, children under the age of five, hospital in-patients and people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
"These targeted feeding programmes provide much needed nutrition through additional foods such as fortified porridge or micronutrient powders. These food items are important in the fight against stunting and under nutrition in children, and they boost the immune systems of vulnerable people," the diplomat said.
WFP also provides hot meals to refugees who are in transit and reception centres. The WFP expressed its gratitude to the German government for the contribution, saying for the last five years, the European nation has been one of the largest donors.
"WFP is grateful to Germany, which over the last five years has been one of our largest donors and has cemented its commitment to humanitarian efforts in Tanzania, the region and around the globe," said WFP Tanzania Country Representative Michael Dunford.
"The continued support from Germany has been crucial in meeting the food needs of men, women and children who have fled their homes," he added.
He said since an upsurge of unrest in Burundi in 2015, about 258,000 refugees have crossed into Tanzania, making it the largest recipient of Burundian refugees in the East African region, adding that Tanzania currently hosts 317,000 refugees in three camps, which was an unprecedented five-fold increase compared to the refugee population two years ago.
In Rwanda, there are 172,000 refugees in six camps, of whom 87,000 are Burundians, with 55,000 residing in Mahama camp and are wholly dependent on assistance to meet their food needs.