Refugee food rations cut in half in Kenya due to « immense » global needs

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NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Food rations will be halved for half a million refugees in Kenya as aid agencies struggle to meet « immense » global humanitarian needs, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

From Saturday, the refugees will receive just over 1,000 kilocalories per day of cereals, pulses and oil as WFP does not have the $10 million a month required to provide the full daily rations.

Most are Somalis and South Sudanese who have fled to Kenya from neighbouring civil wars.

« The humanitarian needs globally are absolutely immense… and greater than they have been in many years, » said Challiss McDonough, a WFP spokeswoman.

« They (donors) are having to make very difficult decisions about whether funding for refugees goes to the Syria refugee crisis or to this existing and growing caseload in East Africa or to the Central African Republic response or any number of other places. »

There has been a surge in humanitarian needs in 2014, with agencies making their largest-ever joint appeal in August for $17.3 billion in aid for 102 million people, up from $12.9 billion for 81 million people in 2013.

WFP’s needs for 2014 are at a record high of $8.4 billion, around half of which is being spent in CAR, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and the Ebola-affected West African states.

« These emergencies are exceptional in terms of their scale, complexity, urgency and the capacity required to respond, » said McDonough.

WFP requires more than $420 million to sustain these five emergency operations until the end of the year.

In East Africa, there has been an outpouring of refugees from South Sudan into neighbouring Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia since conflict flared up in the world’s youngest country in December last year.

WFP may also have to cut food rations in Ethiopia, where it is feeding some 600,000 refugees, up almost 50 percent on 2013, at a cost of $10 million a month.

« We will have to make that decision in Ethiopia in the next couple of weeks, » said McDonough.

(Editing by Ros Russell)


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