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World Food Programme Resumes Food Distributions In Diffa Region, Niger

Niamey - WFP has resumed providing food assistance to refugees and displaced people in the Diffa region of Niger, near the Nigerian border, after security concerns forced a temporary suspension of food distributions.

Following attacks by Nigerian militants at the beginning of February, thousands of refugees and host communities were forced to flee for their lives, and have been cut off from any assistance.

WFP and partners plan to carry out food distributions today to more than 3,000 people, following resumption of food distributions on 19 February in Chetimari and Gagamari villages, where some 6,500 people received a monthly food ration, and nutritional supplements were provided for children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.  

“The basic food needs of these communities, often trapped in inaccessible areas, are considerable. As soon as the Government of Niger declares an area safe to access, WFP and its partners step in, providing much needed food to both refugees and local people displaced by conflict. We have already stored food across the region, which allows us to respond swiftly to provide life-saving assistance. Even with the recent attack, WPF still carried out a food distribution in the Saya Forage refugee camp on 12 February, just before being forced to temporarily suspend its assistance,” said Benoit Thiry, WFP Niger Country Director.

WFP is supporting the Government of Niger and NGO partners to carry out assessments to ascertain the number and needs of the affected population.

“We now have a better understanding where people have fled following the recent attacks, and as security permits, we are seeking to reach all of them. WFP and partners are travelling across the region to reach people who are scattered in remote areas,” said Thiry.

By the end of February, WFP plans to assist 37,000 newly displaced people with food.

WFP is particularly concerned about the poor nutritional state of children and women and has restocked functional nutritional centres with essential nutrition products.

A WFP vulnerability assessment in November 2014 showed that the nutritional status of the children in Niger was already extremely worrying, with a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate of 23.5 percent, above the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

More than 100,000 people have fled increasing violence in Nigeria in recent months and found refuge in neighbouring Niger. Most of the displaced are women and children. Refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable host communities are lacking access to basic services - food, clean water, health services and shelter.

WFP gradually increased its food assistance last year and by December 2014 was providing food to over 60,000 refugees, returnees and host families.

WFP is also on the ground in the other two countries affected by violence in Nigeria – Cameroon and Chad – and it aims to reach about 240,000 people with food assistance in 2015 across the three countries.

Lack of funding, however, makes it increasingly difficult for WFP to scale up its response to meet the growing needs of refugees, returnees, IDPs and host communities in Niger and the other affected countries.

In the Diffa region of Niger, WFP requires US$26 million to reach 130,000 people with food assistance for twelve months.
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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 75 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Vigno Hounkanli, WFP Niger,  +227 91205585
Adel Sarkozi, WFP West Africa Regional Bureau (Senegal), +221 776375964