A refugee camp in Mauritania where thousands of people are finding shelter from the conflict in Mali. Copyright WFP/Justin Smith
They fled across the borders of Libya as the country slid into civil war. They ran for their lives through the dense bush in western Cote d’Ivoire, to reach shelter in Liberia. And, as famine loomed in Somalia, they poured into the camps of Dadaab in Kenya and Dolo Ado in Ethiopia desperate for food, water and medical attention.
ROME -- Of the 99 million people who received WFP food assistance last year, one in five was a displaced person. Forced to flee across borders as refugees, or internally displaced within their own countries by fighting or by natural disasters, they are among the world’s most vulnerable people. Every year on World Refugee Day (20 June), we recognize their struggle.
In 2011, WFP provided food assistance to:
• Refugees: 2,595,785
• IDPs: 15,093,137
• Returnees: 3,061,072
Unfortunately, many refugee crises continue for a long time. For example, WFP provides food assistance near the Sudan-Eritrea border in camps for Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees that were set up in the 1960s.
Today, among the newest camps are those in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, where WFP is helping tens of thousands of Malians who fled their homes following a recent coup d’etat.
WFP works closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide emergency rations to new arrivals and longer-term food assistance once refugees are officially registered.
WFP also works with the International Organization for Migration and governments to assist ‘returnees’ with reintegration packages to help them get back on their feet when they finally go home. Today, WFP is assisting thousands of returnees who are going home to South Sudan, which became the newest country in the world last July.