How Extreme Food Shortages Affect Africa’s Refugees

UNHCR and WFP are worried that reduction to food assistance will have extreme nutrition and protection-related effects as displaced people try to adapt by skipping meals, hauling their kids out of schools to remain at home or work, and selling family assets.

The Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), Ertharin Cousin and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, are exceptionally worried that basic shortages in sustenance help are influencing nearly 2 million displaced people in 10 nations across Africa. The shortages could largely increase in coming months without new resources to address food needs.

The number of refugees in Africa increased from 2.6 million in 2011 to nearly 5 million in 2016. While donor funding for refugee assistance increased during this period, it did not keep pace with rapidly rising needs. As a result, the humanitarian response is significantly underfunded. This has forced cuts in food assistance for some groups of refugees.


The two agency heads warn that food shortages will have dire consequences on the health and protection of such vulnerable people, unless more support is urgently made available.

“We can’t imagine how difficult life is for thousands of refugee families with no food, and often denied the possibility to work or provide for themselves in other ways. Refugees are extraordinarily resilient, but cuts in food assistance – sometimes as high as 50% – are having a devastating impact on the health and nutrition of thousands of families,” said UNHCR’s Grandi. “The right to food is a basic human right. We are working with WFP to ensure that no refugee goes to sleep hungry, but support has to come quickly.”


Written by How Africa

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