Despite Cuts, WFP Continues Food Support For Most Vulnerable Refugees From Bhutan

Published on 27 January 2017

KATHMANDU – United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been compelled to reduce the amount of food provided to less vulnerable Bhutanese refugees starting in January 2017 due to a severe lack of funding. At present, there are around 11,000 refugees from Bhutan who depend on humanitarian assistance.

WFP continues to provide full rations to some 3,100 of the most vulnerable refugees including the elderly, people with disabilities, and single mothers. Full rations consist of a monthly supply of around 17 kilograms of food, composed of a daily ration of 440 grams of rice, 90 grams of varied pulses, 25 grams of vegetable oil and salt and the food supplies for February will be distributed to these people next week. The ration is the equivalent of 2,100 calories per person per day.

With the remainder of the funds available, WFP will continue to provide monthly rations of 10 kilograms of rice to the remaining 7,700 refugees.

“WFP acknowledges the concerns expressed by some members of the refugee community. The decision to reduce the amount of food to non-vulnerable groups is not taken lightly” said Pippa Bradford, WFP Representative and Country Director. “WFP will continue to provide full support to the vulnerable refugees who are the most food-insecure. WFP will also promote the expansion of vegetable gardens with tools, seeds and guidance, in order to complement the refugees’ food basket and promote self-reliance” she added.

To make Bhutanese refugees aware of the imminent changes and what it would mean for them, WFP, UNHCR and the National Refugee Coordination Unit (NUCRA) at the Ministry of Home Affairs carried out an information campaign in October and December 2016 as well as in January 2017, informing refugees about the reduction in rations for some due to the funding shortage.
 
WFP has been providing food assistance to Bhutanese refugees living in camps in eastern Nepal since 1992. The original population of around 117,000 people has decreased steadily since 2007 as people have been resettled in other countries.  Many donors including Australia, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, UN CERF and the United States, have contributed generously over the years. However, donors have indicated they cannot maintain this support, as priorities have shifted to major refugee crises in other parts of the world.

WFP and its partners will continue to monitor the situation very closely for any warning signs of growing food insecurity or negative coping mechanisms. WFP listens to the refugees and works to address their concerns.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
 
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For more information please contact
Seetashma Thapa, WFP/Nepal, Mob. +977 98511 77901, seetashma.thapa@wfp.org