WFP and UNHCR call for urgent funds to avert more ration cuts to refugees in Chad
N'DJAMENA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned today that WFP will be forced to make additional cuts to already dwindling food assistance to refugees in April and may face a complete suspension of assistance in May 2023 - without immediate and sustained funding.
Refugees, displaced people, and host communities in Chad, particularly those newly arrived, have been pushed to the limits by the combined effects of growing insecurity, climate shocks, and the rising cost of food which is driving up hunger and malnutrition.
WFP urgently needs US$142.7 million over the next six months to maintain its refugee assistance programme and provide life-saving food assistance to crisis-affected communities. Significant funding shortfalls have already forced WFP to cut food assistance in recent months. In April, WFP can only assist 270,300 of the 600,000 refugees in the country, before a complete break in assistance to refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) is expected in May.
"If there is no more food assistance in May, this will be catastrophic for refugees and host populations alike, as the lean season is fast approaching when we will see a spike in hunger levels. We need to act now to ensure we can continue providing life-saving food assistance," said Pierre Honnorat, WFP Representative in Chad.
Chad is home to over one million forcibly displaced persons, including about 600,000 refugees, mainly from Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon and Nigeria, and 381,000 internally displaced persons. Of the 600,000 refugees, some 145,000 (about 24 percent) have arrived in Chad since 2018, and new groups continue to arrive every year; mainly from Sudan - but also from CAR and Nigeria.
The latest assessment missions conducted by WFP and UNHCR in refugee camps and hosting areas have reported a worrying deterioration of refugees' nutrition and food security situation and a high dependence on humanitarian assistance among refugee communities, particularly new arrivals and the most vulnerable groups. Most recently, there has been a 65 percent rise in the number of malnourished children admitted to treatment programmes in camps in the East of the country.
"Despite increasing needs, refugee support programmes in Chad are chronically underfunded. Particularly the most vulnerable refugees and those who arrived in recent years struggle to get by and crucially need continued food assistance. At the same time, UNHCR and development partners seek long-term resilience programs. WFP’s imminent assistance cuts, compounded by UNHCR’s challenging financial situation, is having a terrible impact on the protection and wellbeing of forcibly displaced people," warned UNHCR Chad Representative, Laura Lo Castro.
A vicious cycle of malnutrition is created within communities, sometimes leading to increased protection risks, maternal mortality with irreversible adverse effects, especially for children, such as stunted growth and delayed intellectual development.
“Government donors, the private sector and individuals need to urgently step up their support so that we can meet critical needs throughout the year and develop durable solutions that will address food aid dependency,” Honnorat added.
UNHCR also needs US$172.5 million to continue to provide protection and relief assistance to over a million forcibly displaced persons and their hosts in Chad. So far, just 15% of the funds required by UNHCR have been secured.