WFP is facing increasing difficulties in providing food assistance to Sahrawi refugees living in remote camps near Tindouf in southwest Algeria – a concern also shared by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Thousands of refugees depend on external humanitarian assistance to survive. With no donor support, we are simply running out of food to give them,” warned Marius de Gaay Fortman, WFP Country Director for Algeria.
De Gaay Fortman stressed that shortages of food aid occur regularly as a result of severe funding shortfalls.
Visit to camps
In March a visit for several donor countries was organised to the camps, but since then only a few significant donations have been received, while shortfalls were covered by WFP’s limited multilateral resources.
With no donor support, we are simply running out of food to give them
Marius de Gaay Fortman, WFP Country Director for Algeria
WFP has been providing assistance to Sahrawi refugees since 1986.
Currently, WFP needs 7,000 metric tons of food at a cost of about US$5 million in order to continue assistance for the next six months.
For the year 2007, considerable contributions will be required to sustain the food pipeline.
WFP at work
The humanitarian agency provides a general food package to 90,000 of the most vulnerable refugees amongst the camp populations, plus until the end of this year, an additional 35,000 rations for families affected by the severe floods in February 2006.
It also supplies supplementary food for 11,200 malnourished children under five years of age and expectant and breast-feeding mothers.
Up to 34,000 students participate in a school feeding programme.
The refugees, who fled a territorial conflict with Morocco in 1975, have had to endure harsh climatic conditions, including extreme temperatures in summer and winter, social isolation and a chronic lack of economic opportunities.
Earlier this year the camps were inundated by rare torrential rains that washed away food, belongings and tents.
WFP and UNHCR have been working very closely together to highlight the plight of the refugees through joint donor visits and joint assessment missions.