UN World Food Programme

EU responds immediately to assist refugees in Algeria

In response to an urgent call for emergency funds to assist Sahrawi refugees, whose camps were hit by torrential rains and flooding earlier this month, WFP has announced that the European Commission (EC) has made an immediate donation of 400,000 Euros (US$ 500,000).

In response to an urgent call for emergency funds to assist Sahrawi refugees, whose camps were hit by torrential rains and flooding earlier this month, WFP has announced that the European Commission (EC) has made an immediate donation of 400,000 Euros (US$ 500,000).

“WFP is very grateful for this quick and timely contribution,” said Marius de Gaay Fortman, WFP Country Director for Algeria.

The refugees depend totally on our food aid to survive

Marius de Gaay Fortman, WFP Country Director for Algeria

WFP immediately responded by taking a loan from the strategic buffer stock funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department to provide a one-month emergency food ration to the disaster victims.

On Sunday 19 February, WFP completed an emergency distribution of food to 60,000 Sahrawi refugees living in the desert area near Tindouf who saw their homes and belongings washed away by three days of rare torrential rains last week.

Replenishment crucial

Since most food in their homes was either damaged or destroyed in four of the five camps, replenishment of food stocks was vital.

"It has been crucial to be able to borrow from the EC strategic buffer stock to respond to the disaster and thanks to the rapid latest contribution of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department we will be able to replenish a large part of the stock,” said de Gaay Fortman.

Nevertheless, WFP stressed the importance of donors coming up with added contributions since it will soon face a serious shortage of food aid for the regular distribution to the entire Sahrawi refugee population.

Depending on food aid

For the next six months, almost 6,000 metric tons at a cost of US$ 3.6 million are needed.

“The refugees depend totally on our food aid to survive,” stressed de Gaay Fortman. "They live in very difficult conditions in the middle of the desert where they have no chance of making a living. We cannot let them down.”

The Western Saharan refugees arrived in Algeria in 1975 after fleeing a territorial conflict.

They settled in five camps near Tindouf, a remote town in the middle of the desert, where they continue to endure harsh climatic conditions, including extreme temperatures in summer and winter, isolation and a chronic lack of economic opportunities.