KATHMANDU – Most Bhutan refugees in Nepal will receive a 30 per cent smaller food ration from next year as part of an effort by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to stretch limited resources further to ensure full rations can continue for the poorest and most vulnerable.
Refugees affected are being advised of the change and it is being implemented in collaboration with the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the Government of Nepal.
“We are grateful to our donors, who have allowed us to support this refugee community with a full food basket since they arrived,” said Pippa Bradford, WFP Nepal Country Director. “However, as new, massive refugee crises around the world compete for limited donor funding, we have had to make this difficult decision in order to stretch decreased resources over a longer period of time,” she said.
To protect the nutritional status of the most vulnerable refugees, full rations will continue for widows, women who do not have working-age men in their family, people with disabilities, the elderly, children aged six months to five years, and children who are separated from their parents or unaccompanied. Additional nutrition support will also continue for pregnant and nursing women, children aged six months to five years, people living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients.
Refugees who do not fulfil the vulnerability criteria will receive 70 percent of the current ration starting in early 2016. The composition of the reduced basket is currently under discussion with refugees’ representatives, so as to accommodate their preferences as much as possible. WFP will increase its monitoring of the nutritional status of refugees in order to detect new vulnerabilities.
Refugees from Bhutan began arriving in Nepal in the 1990s. Around 19,000 receive WFP food assistance. A UNHCR-led programme has resettled 100,000 refugees in third countries, mainly the United States of America. The resettlement programme will continue in 2016.
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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 80 countries.
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