Millions of Refugees Face Hunger as Donor Support Withers

GENEVA - Ahead of World Refugee Day, the World Food Program is appealing for international support for millions of destitute refugees, many of whom are facing hunger because money to feed them has dried up.

The World Food Program assists more than 115 million people in 80 countries. Currently, it has received just 55 percent of the $15.3 billion it needs to implement its life-saving operations this year.

To make ends meet, it has been forced to make draconian cuts in food rations for millions of refugees across eastern and southern Africa, as well as the Middle East. WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri says in eastern Africa alone, nearly three-quarters of refugees have had their food rations cut by half.

"In Southern Africa, refugees in Tanzania who depend entirely on WFP assistance have had their rations cut by almost one-third," said Phiri. "Significant funding shortages for the Syria Regional Refugee Response mean 242,000 refugees in Jordan may be cut off from assistance at the end of August unless more funding is received.”

Phiri says the WFP urgently requires $4.5 billion over the coming six months to restore those benefits.

"If we do not get money, we may be forced to prioritize further or even to suspend activities. This will affect vulnerable groups depending on WFP support, particularly malnourished children," said Phiri. "You have other vulnerable groups or other populations of concern. Pregnant and expecting mothers, nursing mothers. They are all parts lumped together in that category that we refer to as refugees.”

The U.N. refugee agency says a record number of more than 80 million refugees and internally displaced people have been forced to flee their homes because of war, violence, and persecution. It says most of those forcibly displaced live precariously on the margins of society, with little hope of returning home any time soon.

As nations prepare to commemorate World Refugee Day, the World Food Program is urging donors not to turn their back on the most vulnerable people when they need their support more than ever.

Source: Voice of America