Peula Rachele stands in line with her children to receive a ration of high-energy biscuits (HEBs) along with other Ivorian refugees. Copyright:WFP/Kudzayi Mazumba
When tensions flared over the disputed presidential elections last month in Côte d'Ivoire, Peula Rachele, 31, and her four children fled across the border into neighbouring Liberia. WFP has launched an emergency operation to supply them and thousands of other refugees with nutritious food rations.
After an arduous journey, they crossed the border into Liberia two days later with no money and nothing to eat. They were lucky to be taken in by a local family who gave them as much food as they could spare, but Peula says it wasn’t enough.
- There are an estimated 15,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia currently in need of food assistance.
- There are are additional 18,000 displaced people in Côte d'Ivoire itself who are also in need of food
- WFP has dispatched enough food to the region to feed a total of 23,000 people for 45-48 days.
“My children were hungry. We brought only what we could carry and I had no more food to give them,” she says.
But that’s changed now with the arrival a WFP shipment of high-energy biscuits (HEBs), a specialized food designed to keep hunger at bay in emergencies.
Peula says she didn’t want to leave her home and that even after her neighbours started packing their bags for Liberia, she was reluctant to attempt the journey alone.
But when army trucks rolled through her village and shots rang out, she was forced to gather what few possessions she could carry and set off with her children—aged one, three, eight and ten.
They’re now among more than 15,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia estimated by WFP to be in need of food assistance, in addition to around 18,000 displaced people in Côte d'Ivoire itself.
To help them, WFP dispatched a first shipment of HEBs to the region over New Year’s weekend to meet the nutritional needs of families like Peula’s for the next 45 days.
HEBs are an ideal source of nutrition in crisis situations when people need food fast and aren’t able to cook. Light and easy to transport, they are packed with vitamins and minerals making them an effective means of guarding children against malnutrition during humanitarian emergencies.
“We want to go home”
After two weeks of living with a host family, Peula says she’s eager to return. “I don’t know how we’ll get along if this situation continues,” she says. “My children want to go back to Côte d'Ivoire. But we’re not going anywhere until our country is safe again.”
In the meantime, Peula says she’s relieved to know that her children will have enough to eat while they wait to go home.