As of July 4th, Niger is home to nearly 43,000 Malian refugees, according to UNHCR. Malians have crossed the border into Niger, fleeing violence and seeking haven in their neighbouring country. Two refugee camps in particular are located near the town of Tillia, at the south-western border with Mali, where WFP is distributing food assistance. With the help of a WFP logistician-turned-photographer, we see who WFP is helping in this camp.
Malian refugees gather at the refugee camps of Agando and Chinuwaren near Tillia, Niger, where around 12,000 were hosted at the time the photos were taken. At this camp, WFP and UNHCR are working together to ensure that beneficiaries receive food rations, and are registered as refugees.
In most cases, WFP brings the food until its final destination, but depends on its implementing partners in the deep field to deliver to beneficiaries. In Tillia, WFP brings food assistance directly to the camp, and WFP partners from the Red Cross of Niger divide the food into pre-set rations for each refugee.
Oftentimes, WFP receives in-kind donations of food assistance from various donor countries and organizations. In this instance, the rice has been provided by USAID.
From here, the rice, oil and other commodities are divided up into one-month rations for each of the beneficiaries.
In order to receive assistance, they must be registered as refugees in Niger. Here, Red Cross workers act on behalf of UNHCR to register each Malian arriving at the camp.
Once registered, refugeee receives a beneficiary card, which they present to collect their food rations.
Many of these people have been travelling for days without food or water, and are exhausted when they arrive at the camp. To the left we see a woman leaving with her bag of food, and to the right a child sits next to rice, beans and vegetable oil being included in the refugee ration packet.
Delivering food to the camps near Tillia is just a small part of a larger relief operation taking place in much of the Sahel region. Conflict that has forced the local Mali people to seek refuge in Niger continues to cause people to flee their homes. Violence, droughts, and the natural hardships associated with living in such an arid region continue to exacerbate an already desperate situation.