WFP warns refugees could face severe food shortages next year

  • Aid to remaining Bhutanese refugees
- John Narayan Parajuli, Kathmandu

Jul 4, 2016-

Nearly 15,000 Bhutanese refugees living in eastern Nepal, who are already receiving 30 percent less food items than required, could face the risk of severe food shortages next year if the UN food agency receives no additional funding.

“At this point in time WFP has no resources for 2017. US$2 million is needed to provide assistance throughout 2017,” Pippa Bradford, the World Food Programme representative and country director, told the Post in an email.

WFP, which has provided food and nutrition assistance to refugees since 1992, began rationing food items from January this year.

“Since January 2016, the WFP assistance has been needs-based, meaning that the general refugee populations receive 70 percent of the full food basket provided to the most vulnerable,” said Bradford. 

Officials say that WFP has sufficient resources to continue with the food support until the end of 2016 at the current rationed level.

Until this point, the WFP has received generous assistance for refugee operations from Canada, Denmark, UN Central Emergency Response Fund, Australia, Multilateral, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department and the USA. 

But donors have now told WFP officials that their resources are being stretched and cannot provide continued support. 

They have “clearly indicated that they no longer can sustain support to the WFP operation as their funds are being drained by other major refugee support in other parts of the world,” Bradford said.

While the resettlement of over 103,000 refugees has significantly reduced the scale of the aid required, there is a sense of weariness among donors after nearly 24 years of continuous support, officials say.

Much hinges on whether Nepal and Bhutan can find a bilateral solution to the remaining refugees or if Nepal decides to locally assimilate the remaining population.

The projected 12,000 refugees that would remain behind in camps will require 1,500 tonnes of rice, 300 tonnes of pulses and 100 tonnes of vegetable oil, according to a WFP estimate.

The UN food agency says that it is in consultation with the government to work out a contingency plan in the event of no additional funding coming through.

Published: 04-07-2016 13:06

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