Recommit to Refugees: Why is this happening


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The assistance being provided to Syrian refugees had to be cut in December of 2014 due to a lack of funding available for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). WFP experienced a $64 million shortage because promised donations were not being presented. In addition, Syrian refugees do not have a legal right to work where they are, in either Lebanon or Jordan. So, they heavily rely on food from organizations such as the WFP. The WFP stated that as a result of the worsening security situation, it is difficult to deliver food to refugees in Yemen. This has affected traders as well. It is more difficult for them to import food in and throughout the country. Inside the country, the violence has led to the suspension of food supplies because shops and food markets have been forced to shut down.

Additionally, Yemen is experiencing acute fuel shortage, mainly in Aden and the capital, Sana`a. This has resulted in many Yemenis facing hunger as they are stuck in their cities and villages where food supplies are diminishing. From the approximately 2.4 million refugees in 22 countries throughout Africa, one-third are experiencing a decrease in food aid from the WFP. The United Nations claims that the World Food Programme’s supplies and funding are diminishing. The refugees of Kenya, mostly from Somalia and South Sudan, will face a cut in aid distribution by 30 percent. Unless new funds become available quickly, the decrease in aid will continue. The WFP acting country director for Kenya, Thomas Hansson, has said that the food stocks are dwindling and in order to prolong the availability of supplies the WFP must decrease the size of rations. In addition, the refugees have not been provided with sustainable solutions. For example, Refugees International reported that the camps established by the UNHCR and WFP are in ruin and the gas-powered generators meant to power the water pumps are no longer working. As a result, the refugees are not capable of being self-sufficient.

The UNHCR is claiming that the crises throughout the world are outnumbering the amount of available funding. The conflicts in Mali, Nigeria, Darfur, and Central African Republic have caused a shortfall in the funding available to each territory. As a result of the multitude of conflicts occurring the Sahel region, there are not enough funds to support everyone they way they previously had.

Chad is facing the most extreme cut; the daily food rations have been reduced from 2100 kilocalories to 850. The UN Human Development Index, which is used to measure three dimensions of human development — health, education, and standard of living — positions Chad as 184th out of 187 countries. Considering this, one can imagine the continuing assistance needed for the Darfuri refugees living in Chad, a very poor region with insufficient social services, markets, and institutions.

In order to understand the issue at hand, the bigger picture needs to be addressed. The refugees of Darfur are expected to integrate into a region of starving people. Severe living conditions, food insecurity, and lack of livelihood opportunities continue due to support being cut by humanitarian agencies. In addition, the uncertain dangerous conditions in Darfur have made it difficult for refugees to return home. What is more, integrating into Chadian society is not easily done due to the bureaucratic barriers preventing Darfuris in obtaining Chadian citizenship. The services and natural resources of Chad are overtaxed as a result of the growing amount of refugees. For example, 80 percent of health clinics in eastern Chad are unable to function as they face shortages of essential equipment and staff. Also, in the Sahelian zone of eastern Chad, accessing water has become a major problem. It is expensive to regularly maintain the wells constructed by humanitarians. Also, seasonal rainwater cannot be collected quickly enough for the prolonged dry season. As a result, there is no water for household use or cultivation of farm land.

On account of the limited opportunities for income and harsh environment faced by the Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, they depend on emergency assistance and aid organizations. The recent cut in food rations will only prolong their suffering.

For Further Reading: Refugees International Report-Sudanese Refugees in Chad 2015

UNHCR News – Food Shortages Hit African Refugees

UNHCR Tracks- Hunger, and hard choices, for Africa’s struggling refugees

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