Hard times for refugees as WFP reduces food rations

When WFP food aid cargo meant for Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps was offloaded from the African Swan ship at Lamu Port. [File, Standard]

Refugees at Kakuma and the nearby Kalobeyei integrated settlement camps in Turkana West sub-county are facing hard times after World Food Programme (WFP) reduced food rations.

Those with big families are now forced to walk to Kakuma town to either beg or compete with the host community for limited casual jobs for survival.

Samira Deng, a Sudanese from Darfur who has been staying at the refugee camp since 2006, expressed fears of starvation and malnutrition if WFP does not rescind the decision.

He said they lack regular aid to meet their needs and called on WFP to declare the shortage a humanitarian crisis so that more donors can help support relief food programmes.

"Donors and well-wishers should step in to support us. We are currently facing starvation and most of us do not have businesses or farms to provide alternative sources of livelihood," he said.

Maria Nadine warned that girls and single mothers have resorted to activities that could compromise their health, in efforts to put food on the table.

"This is putting lives of women at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections like HIV,"  Ms Nadine said.

Locals expressed fears that the situation could escalate animosity with refugees after some youth resorted to crime for quick cash.

Camp manager Edwin Chabari confirmed that there is reduced food rations for refugees who currently do not have capacity to change diet.

"I have forwarded the complaints to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for urgent action," Mr Chabari said.

WFP has been cutting food rations to refugees whenever there is insufficient funding.

The sharp reduction or sometimes complete stop in assistance, has resulted in far-reaching consequences on refugees’ health and nutrition— as well as on stability and security in the camps and surrounding communities.