The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned today of an imminent cut to food assistance to crisis-affected refugees in Chad unless urgent funding to bridge major funding shortfalls is received imminently.
WFP requires US$161 million by the end of 2022 to avert a suspension of its refugee assistance programme and provide life-saving assistance to crisis-affected communities in Chad including 519,000 Sudanese and Central African refugees.
Refugee communities in Chad already face severe malnutrition levels, with some areas seeing acute malnutrition rates of over 19% and chronic malnutrition rates of 42% – a situation expected to worsen without additional funding that could stem the food aid cuts.
Starting in June 2021, WFP was forced to provide half rations to refugees and other groups due to major funding shortages.
WFP and UNHCR are concerned that any further suspension of food assistance will have a severe impact on the food security, nutrition, and protection of refugee communities – especially the most vulnerable – including children being pulled out of school, forced to work, or forced into marriage.
“Refugees count on us for what is sometimes the only meal they eat in a day – WFP’s food is a vital lifeline.
Cutting this lifeline now will have devastating consequences on the most vulnerable, especially women, girls and children – we’re extremely concerned,” said WFP Country Director and Representative in Chad, Pierre Honnorat.
While WFP and UNHCR continue working with the Government of Chad and partners to find lasting solutions, refugees are largely dependent on humanitarian assistance due to limited access to fertile land and livelihood opportunities.
This year, refugees and host communities have also been hard-hit by unprecedented flooding and spiralling food costs.
“We have received reports of an increase of malnourished children admitted in health centres, and have witnessed less children than usual attending school when compared to last year, as they are sent to the fields or towns to work,” said UNHCR Chad Representative Laura Lo Castro during a joint visit with WFP to assess the situation of Central African refugees in southern Chad, 40% of whom have arrived in the past three years and face a particularly worrisome situation.
“Food aid is critical to save lives in the short term, but also to safeguard ongoing and future resilience programmes.”
Chad hosts 577,000 refugees, more than any other country in West and Central Africa.
The refugee population has increased by 10 percent in the past year and is mainly comprised of people who fled political instability, social unrest, and insecurity in neighbouring Cameroon, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and Sudan.