1 The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Ethiopian Government’s Refugee and Return Service (RRS) today requested US$73 million to provide food rations.
2 food to more than 750,000 refugees in Ethiopia over the next six months.
4 WFP will run out of food for refugees in October, leaving vulnerable families dependent on food assistance at risk of malnutrition, micronutrient deficiency, disease/infection susceptibility and heightened protection risks, the three agencies warn.
5 Due to prolonged funding shortages, WFP has already been forced to cut rations for 750,000 registered refugees living in 22 camps and five host community sites in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Somali and Tigray of Ethiopia.
6 Food rations for refugees in Ethiopia were first reduced by 16% in November 2015, 40% in November 2021 and 50% in June 2022.
7 Food insecurity among refugees has increased as a result of cutbacks and is further exacerbated by ongoing global constraints on food availability, economic crises, rising food and energy costs, the fallout from COVID-19, conflict and insecurity.
8 To understand the impact of ration cuts on the food security and socio-economic situation of refugees, WFP, UNHCR and RRS conducted a rapid assessment in April based on 1,215 households residing in camps located in Afar, Beneshangul- Gumuz, Gambella and Somali regions.
9 The results show that more households continued to adopt negative coping strategies by reducing the number of meals consumed in a day, consuming less expensive or less preferred foods, or limiting the portion of meals served.
10 More households reported engaging in degrading activities, including involving children in income-generating activities, collecting and selling firewood, while several borrowed money and relied on friends/relatives for food.
11 This forces refugees to rely on the resources of the host community and the environment in which they live, which also increases the likelihood of resource-based conflicts between refugees and host communities.
12 More resources must be urgently mobilized to meet the immediate food and non-food needs of refugees to prevent further suffering, while similar investments are made to enable sustainable food solutions embedded in the commitments made in the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR) and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) for refugees and host communities through livelihoods and cash programmes, in line with UNHCR and RRS strategies.
13 As a short-term measure, WFP and its partners continue to prioritize the needs of children aged 6–23 months and pregnant and lactating women under the malnutrition prevention program (general supplementary feeding).
14 “Three-quarters of a million refugees will go without food in a matter of weeks unless we receive funding immediately,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP Representative and Country Director for Ethiopia.
15 “The priority for all of us must be to restore assistance to at least minimal levels for the refugees, all of whom rely solely on WFP food and cash assistance to survive.” “We have a shortfall of $73 million for the minimum needs of refugees and we are deeply concerned that if funding cuts continue, they may consider returning to their places of origin when it is not safe.” If there is an immediate response from donors, WFP will be able to purchase food available in the region and transport it to meet the dietary needs of the refugees.
16 WFP will also transfer cash to refugees, giving them a choice on how to meet their immediate needs and stimulating local markets.
17 “We are very concerned about the lack of food for the refugees.
18 The continuing lack of full rations for refugees, coupled with the impact of the most severe drought the country has experienced in more than 40 years, will greatly undermine the gains made in refugee protection and risk affecting the peaceful coexistence between refugees and their hosts.
19 communities,” said UNHCR Deputy Representative in Ethiopia, Margaret Atieno.
20 “We are grateful for what donors have provided so far, but more funds are needed, and quickly.” “Ethiopia, with its progressive refugee policy and commitments, has striven to ensure the sustainable self-reliance of refugees and host communities with its meager resources, struggling with recurring funding gaps from the international community.
21 The subsequent deduction from the general fund for humanitarian assistance to refugees in Ethiopia in recent years has not only affected the immediate basic needs of the refugees, but has also hampered the long-term sustainable self-reliance and coexistence of refugees and families.
22 host communities”.
24 “Ongoing resource constraints create conflict and stress due to competition for scarce existing local resources.
25 Persistent budget cuts and the recent deduction of 50% of food and cash assistance to refugees from the recommended minimum standard severely affect the lives of refugees, exposing them to chronic hunger, anemia, sexual exploitation and death, as more than 85 percent of the refugees in Ethiopia are totally dependent on WFP’s monthly food rations.
26 This will undermine the positive development of Ethiopia to ensure the self-reliance and coexistence of refugees and host communities and, above all, will hamper all efforts to save lives.” WFP, UNHCR and RRS continue to prioritize the food needs of refugees and have established an effective system to identify the food assistance needs of refugees through biometric verification, ensuring accountability and the right to receive food assistance and in monthly cash.
27 The three agencies call on all partners to strengthen efforts to address the medium and long-term food needs of refugees, in line with the 2019 Refugee Proclamation of the Government of Ethiopia and the commitments contained in the GCR and the CRRF.
28 Ethiopia hosts more than a million registered refugees and asylum seekers.
30 Of these, some 750,000 are totally dependent on humanitarian food assistance.
31 RRS is managing the distribution of food and cash assistance to refugees in a more accountable and transparent way according to the biometric database.
32 RRS will continue to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees have access to biometric registration (level three) to meet their assistance and protection needs.
33 WFP, UNHCR and RRS continue to count on the donor community to expand financial support to refugees based on the principle of shared responsibility to implement life-saving core humanitarian activities.