Despite ‘alarming’ food insecurity, UN slashes refugee rations in Africa’s Sahel

Food rations for refugees and displaced persons in areas of the Sahel are being slashed by up to half owing to a severe budget gap, with millions poised to go hungry as prices increase and harvests are impacted by climatic shocks, according to UN agencies.

According to the United Nations’ humanitarian agency (OCHA), 18 million people in Africa’s dry zone beneath the Sahara may risk extreme food insecurity in the next three months. According to OCHA spokeswoman Jens Laerke, the region’s $3.8 billion request is only about 12% financed.

“The situation has reached worrisome levels in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger, where people will face emergency levels of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August,” he said at a press conference, adding that food insecurity was at its highest level since 2014.

Rations are now at 75 percent in hard-to-reach and food-insecure regions in Burkina Faso, and 50 percent in other areas, according to the World Food Programme.

Rations for displaced individuals and refugees in Chad have already been slashed in half, according to the report. If more cash is not received by July, the WFP will be compelled to lower them even further.

The food component of the food-cash ration is being slashed in half at Mbera camp in Mauritania, according to the report.

One reason driving higher food costs in Africa is the dispute between key grain producers Russia and Ukraine. This situation has also caused help to be redirected from other locations.

“Why is it suddenly so bad? We have violence in West Africa, COVID is still raging, climate-related shocks, and growing costs, all of which are clashing to put basic requirements out of reach for millions of people “The WFP’s Tomson Phiri said during the briefing.

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