Without new funds UN food agency will suspend aid to Eritrean refugees

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that without fresh funding, it will be forced to suspend assistance to more than 91,000 Eritrean refugees living in camps in the Sudan.“We are appealing to donors to come forward urgently with contributions to assist the Eritrean refugees,” said WFP’s Country Director in Sudan, Ronald Sibanda. Referring to the fact that Eritreans are repatriating in large numbers, he said, many “are ready to go home, but until they do, our help is all they have.”Lack of resources has already compelled the agency to cut by almost half the amount of food being distributed to the Eritrean refugees in Sudan, who face conditions of extreme poverty. Many arrived nearly 20 years ago, and have seen their access to food decline dramatically over the years, WFP said.The agency needs nearly 10,000 tons of mixed food commodities, valued at approximately $5.2 million, to assist the Eritrean refugees until they are repatriated next year.Meanwhile, the reduction in rations has caused a jump in the malnutrition rates of children under five as well as pregnant and lactating women among the refugee population. Some 4,500 of the most vulnerable are being cared for through supplementary feeding programmes in the camps.“We have a tremendous responsibility towards these people,” said Mr. Sibanda. “We are their only hope and we cannot abandon them.” read more

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