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WFP Forced To Reduce Food Rations For Western Sahara Refugees As Ramadan Approaches

ALGIERS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Algeria is appealing for urgent donor support for refugees from Western Sahara as severe lack of funding has forced the agency in May to reduce food rations by almost 20 percent.

WFP food assistance has been a lifeline for thousands of Sahrawi refugees who are heavily reliant on food and humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. The rations contain staple food items including wheat flour, vegetable oil and rice. If new contributions do not materialise, WFP will be forced to reduce rations to half of the recommended daily allowance in June.

“WFP is seriously concerned about the lack of funding which has already forced us to reduce monthly food rations several times this year,” said WFP Representative in Algeria, Romain Sirois. “Vulnerable refugee families need continued and predictable food and nutritional support, especially as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan approaches.”

For more than 40 years, the Sahrawi refugees have been living under extremely harsh conditions in the Sahara desert in southwestern Algeria. Hosted in five refugee camps near Tindouf, refugee families rely on WFP as their primary source of food as employment and access to markets is limited.

WFP urgently requires US$7.9 million to continue providing vital food assistance to Sahrawi refugees over the next six months. Any further reductions or halt of food assistance will have a severe impact on the food security and nutritional status of refugees, especially young children, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly and the sick.

For almost six months, WFP has had to halt the distribution of specialized nutritious products for the prevention and treatment of anaemia, stunting and malnutrition among thousands of pregnant and nursing mothers and their young children. This could have a serious negative impact on their nutritional status.  

WFP has been supporting refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria since 1986. All WFP assistance in Algeria is carried out and monitored in collaboration with national and international organizations to ensure the assistance reaches the people for whom it is intended.

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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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For more information please contact (email address:
Katharina MeyerSeipp, WFP/Algiers, Tel. +213 21 60 80 66, Mob. +213 660811416
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +201066634522