WFP cuts food rations for 150,000 refugees in Uganda

KAMPALA – The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday reduced food rations for almost 150,000 refugees living in Uganda.

"Reducing rations is a last resort to ensure we can continue providing life-saving support for the most vulnerable refugees," WFP Country Director Alice Martin Daihirou said in a statement.

The WFP said that those who had arrived in Uganda before July 2013 – representing nearly half of all refugees in Uganda who receive WFP food assistance – would be affected by the move.

However, the cut will not affect some 138,000 refugees who fled neighbouring South Sudan since fighting broke out in that country in late 2013.

Extremely vulnerable individuals who have been identified by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) will also be exempted.

"Without the [rations] reduction, the WFP would run out of food stocks for all refugees in Uganda in April," said Daihirou.

The last time rations were cut for refugees in Uganda was in early 2014.

"If the WFP fails to receive substantial contributions in the coming months, the cuts could last for the next six months or longer – and possibly even affect new South Sudanese refugees," she warned.

The WFP has struggled to raise an additional $30 million for its operations in Uganda for the next six months.

"We urgently need more funding to restore full assistance to people in Uganda who have no means to feed themselves," Daihirou said.

"The WFP requires $7.6 million each month to support an estimated 383,000 refugees this year," she asserted.

The ration cuts come at a particularly difficult time for refugees in Uganda.

Under a government scheme, refugees are allocated plots of land on which to build shelters and grow food.

However, an assessment conducted in late 2014 by the government, the WFP, the UNHCR and UNICEF found that more than half of all refugee families who would be affected by ration cuts had suffered poor harvests.

In light of the reduction in rations, there is a major risk that refugees will experience food scarcity in the first quarter of 2015 due to depleted food stocks.

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