Around 200, 000 refugees that came to Uganda before July 2015 are facing the possibility of starvation of no funds are provided very soon. This has prompted the UNHCR to say “It is extremely worried that even as the refugee population grows, funds to meet basic needs are becoming exhausted.”
The warning comes after more than 75,000 South Sudan refugees crossed to Uganda since July 8, 2016 when fighting broke out in Juba.
A joint statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) raised the alarm and warning to the refugees that they will no longer be able to receive full rations because of a funding crisis.
Instead, the more than 200,000 refugees will from this week receive 50 percent of the food rations they’ve been receiving as the aid agencies wait for more funding from the international community.
The three agencies currently in charge of taking care of refugees have appealed to donors to urgently speed up contributions to the humanitarian response to refugees in Uganda to end a funding shortage that has forced the revision of survival rations.
The joint statement by the trio said: “Low levels of funding, together with a large number of new arrivals fleeing to Uganda from South Sudan since 7 July, has left the refugee response with no choice but to re-prioritize their focus on those refugees in greatest need.
Refugees who arrived in Uganda after July 2015, as well as those who have been identified as particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly, orphans, the chronically ill and those in need of treatment for malnutrition, will continue to receive a full ration.”
Mike Sackett, WFP’s acting Country Director for Uganda: “We have done everything we can to avoid this, but we have been left with no option but to reduce food assistance for many of the refugees in Uganda, in order to stretch available resources and prioritize the most vulnerable new arrivals,” said “We hope that this is temporary, and we are working as hard as we can to raise the resources needed to restore the full level of food assistance for as many refugees as possible.”
David Apollo Kazungu, the Commissioner for Refugees at OPM added: “We are grateful to donors for their unwavering support so far but we appeal to the international community to do more,” “People are fleeing because they are afraid for their lives. Our communities are welcoming them and giving them what we can: land and hope for a better future.
But our message to the international community is this: we need your help to meet their basic needs until they are able to stand on their own two feet.”
WFP says it needs approximately US$7 million every month to provide life-saving food assistance to refugees in Uganda. Despite the generous support of donors, the humanitarian response requires an additional US$20million to restore full food rations to refugees for the rest of the year.
Refugees receiving full rations are provided with 2,122 calories of food per person per day, in line with the minimum recommended daily allowance, during their first year, decreasing as they become increasingly self-reliant during their time in Uganda. Other refugees receive cash assistance in place of food rations, which also provides them with the opportunity to exercise greater personal choice.
The humanitarian response to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda was already severely underfunded before the outbreak of violence in Juba on 8 July, which has since prompted more than 70,000 people to cross the border in to Uganda. New arrivals have spoken of armed groups operating across various parts of South Sudan, attacking villages, burning down houses, murdering civilians, sexually assaulting women and girls and forcibly recruiting young men and boys in to their ranks.
By the end of 2015, Uganda was the third-largest refugee hosting country in Africa and the eighth-largest refugee hosting country in the world.