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Funding hitches hit Dzaleka Refugee Camp

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The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have warned that lack of funds could have severe consequences for more than 23,500 refugees at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

The two UN agencies say due to funding shortfalls, WFP has been forced to reduce rations and even suspend provision of some foodstuffs during the last six months.

According to a press release from the UN, released Monday, currently, the refugees are only receiving three of the five planned foods.

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“Stocks of a special nutritious food for young children were depleted last September. Corn soya blended flour fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, known as Super Cereal, is the only commodity that is being provided at the full amount to refugees,” reads the statement.

It adds:

“Ration cuts mean that refugees are only receiving 40 percent of the recommended minimum daily kilocalories, compromising long-standing efforts to achieve food security in Dzaleka camp. Without additional funding, maize stocks, even at half rations, are set to run out in mid-February. Stocks of vegetable oil, pulses and Super Cereal are likely to be depleted by May.”

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According to the statement, WFP requires US$2 million to resume provision of full food rations for the next 12 months.

“The situation is becoming dire. Many of the most vulnerable, including children, the chronically ill, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and the elderly are on the brink of malnutrition,” the statement quotes Monique Ekoko, UNHCR Representative for Malawi.

The statement adds that when rations are reduced, protection concerns increase in the camp.

It says a survey carried out by WFP, UNHCR and UN Women found that lack of food was one of the main drivers of sexual and gender-based violence among the refugees.

In the statement, WFP Representative, Coco Ushiyama says:

“Reducing rations is a last resort in these circumstances. At a time of high food security challenges in Malawi, we realise budgets are tight but we can’t forget those who have nowhere to turn. Hence this urgent appeal for funding to restore adequate food assistance and support for a safe environment in refugee camps, especially for women and girls.”

The statement has since quoted Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bestone Chisamile, as appealing to the international community to assist the Dzaleka refugees.

“We’ll continue to meet our international obligations towards refugees. However, we need continued support from WFP and UNHCR to be able to do so. That is why we’re appealing to the international community to provide the necessary funding so that refugee families in Malawi do not go to bed hungry,” Chisamile, who is also Commissioner for Refugees in Malawi, is quoted as saying.

Currently, the country is worst-affected by food insecurity with some 2.8 million people estimated to be currently in need of food assistance.

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