The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday warned that more than 435,000 refugees in Kenya will face imminent food shortages unless new funds are swiftly received.
WFP needs 57 million U.S. dollars to continue providing food and nutrition assistance to the country’s refugee population between January and June 2021, it said in a statement.
Without new funds, WFP will need to completely halt all cash transfers starting in January and by March, it will have fully depleted its food stocks. Most refugee families rely solely on WFP food to survive, it stressed.
“WFP is facing a critical shortage of funds to finance food assistance to refugees living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps and in Kalobeyei settlement,” said WFP Kenya Country Director Lauren Landis, referring to the country’s three main refugee sites.
“We have exhausted all resources and we are frankly faced with a life-threatening crisis,” he added.
The statement said that the funding shortfall had already forced WFP to cut full food rations by more than one-third as of last September, compromising refugees’ health and nutrition.
“We are appealing to our donors to quickly provide new resources to allow us to carry on providing food and cash to the refugees. A disruption of this magnitude to the life-saving refugee operation would be catastrophic,” Landis said.
The 40,000 refugees living in north-western Kalobeyei settlement risk being the first hit; their WFP food is delivered purely in the form of cash transfers.
The statement said that in Dadaab and Kakuma camps, WFP provided almost 400,000 refugees with a mix of cash and food, adding, however, that cash covered about 60 percent of staple cereals in their food basket.
WFP said a sharp reduction or complete stop in assistance could have far-reaching consequences on refugees’ health and nutrition — as well as on stability and security in the camps and surrounding communities. It follows other ration cuts over the past two years that have increased child and maternal malnutrition.
WFP commended the Government of Kenya 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.
The CRRF outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Kenya.
Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains, WFP said.