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ALGIERS – As a result of insufficient funding for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), refugees from Western Sahara living in Algeria are now receiving, for the third consecutive month, a reduced ration that does not meet the minimum daily needs. The cuts come as the Sahrawi refugee crisis enters its 40th year.
"Reducing rations is a last resort to extend the time through which we can continue to provide food assistance to the refugee population," said WFP representative in Algeria Romain Sirois. "These refugees have lived for decades on an already limited food basket, which WFP is now forced to reduce. This will jeopardize recent improvements in malnutrition and anaemia in the camps and it will also affect dietary diversity," he added.
Earlier this year, WFP modified its food basket, providing fewer and less costly cereals and pulses. Despite these measures to make the available funding stretch further, WFP could not avoid reducing the food rations starting August. Since then, food rations no longer cover the daily nutritional intake recommended. The food basket is revised every month, in view of resource forecasts and available stocks.
WFP continues advocating for funding. The current shortfall until the end of 2015 is US$2 million dollars. The situation will become even more critical next year, with an estimated shortfall of US$9.2 million, out the US$20 million of yearly requirements. "WFP is tirelessly working with other UN agencies to bring attention back to this forgotten and neglected crisis," said Sirois.
WFP has been supporting refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria since 1986. In the Sahrawi camps, general food distributions are combined with activities to prevent and treat undernutrition and with a school-feeding programme, aiming at maintaining enrolment and attendance of refugee children in schools. All WFP assistance in Algeria is carried out and monitored in collaboration with national and international organizations
The Sahrawi crisis is the UN's oldest protracted operation and the second longest-running refugee situation worldwide.