The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it will further reduce monthly relief cash and food rations for 1.26 million refugees in Uganda due to a funding shortfall. With effect from February 2021, refugees will have to make do with only 60 percent of a full ration.
“COVID-19 must not be an excuse for the world to turn its back on refugees at this terrible time,” said WFP Country Director El-Khidir Daloum. “We appreciate that donors fully funded our refugee operation in Uganda in 2019 but right now we are unable to keep up even basic food assistance and the poorest will suffer the most as we have to cut still further” he said.
Last year was particularly hard for refugees as their rations were reduced by 30 percent in April, which coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. And in February they face a further 10 percent cut.
WFP immediately needs US$95.8 million to provide full rations to refugees in Uganda over the next six months.
The most vulnerable women, children and the elderly are increasingly at risk of becoming malnourished, which can in turn impact their immune systems and make them more likely to be infected by disease, amid a pandemic. The West Nile region, which hosts six refugee settlements, is one of the current COVID-19 hotspots.
The current 30 percent ration cut and the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns are major contributors to hunger in all 13 refugee settlements, according to a recent food assessment survey. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis (for June- December 2020) found that refugees in all 13 settlements faced acute food insecurity.
WFP commends the Government of Uganda for continuing to host refugees and seeking to meet its obligations under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), opening up access to local services, providing land and allowing greater integration of refugees with local populations. Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa.
The CRRF outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Uganda. Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains.