PPI Web Desk
Rome: The COVID-19 pandemic has hit every single nation, impacted economies and millions of people. The lives most affected are the vulnerable sections of society the poor, elderly and disabled people, children and refugees. Ahead of World Refugee Day the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warns that millions of refugees worldwide may face starvation.
Fighting with the impact of the pandemic many countries have cut their funding for WFP which leaves refugees and the poor worldwide with an uncertain future, facing hunger. Because of funding shortfalls in the Middle East, East and Southern Africa rations for the most vulnerable have been cut, those whose survival depends on WFP food supply.
Rations for nearly three-quarter of refugees in East Africa have been cut by 50 percent. In Tanzania and South Africa refugees entirely depend on provisions from WFP. Their rations have been cut by nearly one-third.
In Jordan, 242,000 refugees may not receive any assistance by end of August unless some funding is coming in. The Syria Regional Refugee Response suffers significant lack of funding. Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies said “What we may be seeing is the impact of COVID-19 on donor government funding and this is negatively impacting our ability to respond and support some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
“The lives of the most marginalized people in the world are on the line and we are urging donors not to turn their backs on refugees when they need it most,” van de Velden adds. To ensure the flow of food to the countries hosting refugees and avoid cuts in food assistance, enough funding is required at least one month in advance.
Because of COVID-19 lockdowns opportunities for refugees to earn some money for food in the informal sector shrinks. The rising funding shortages does intersect with the increasing food prices.
As conflicts, economic meltdowns and disasters rise globally the number of people in need of food and other support is growing. Humanitarian agencies and WFP have to make difficult choices on who can eat and who not. WFP in Rwanda prioritized those who need food assistance the most. Because of funding shortages even those most vulnerable receive only cut rations, which is handed out in form of cash.
Ange, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in Rwanda said “During COVID-19 lockdown, we couldn’t leave the camp and we couldn’t earn anything as all casual work outside the camp stopped.” “The situation got worse when our food ration was reduced. My family started facing a serious food shortage,” Ange said.
Countries with the most number of refugees requiring support are the ones most underfunded. WFP supports over 1.2 million refugees in Uganda, 65 percent of the nations operations. Funding cuts of over 80 percent has a significant impact on refugees depending on WFP assistance.
The WFP estimates that the number of people affected by famine will rise from 34 million to 41 million. It is very important and vital that countries start supporting the most vulnerable.