March 8, 2021

Donors Reluctant to Fund Food Support for Refugees in Rwanda

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Burundian refugees wait to board a UNHCR bus, eight kilometres from the Burundian/Rwandan border, which they crossed by foot, in Kamabuye, Rwanda, on Friday, May 1, 2015. (Photo by KATE HOLT)

The UN has opted to implement deep cuts to food rations for refugees in Rwanda as donors appear more reluctant to support the programs here.

While the cuts are in different countries including Uganda and Ethiopia, which also host significant refugee populations, the cuts in Rwanda a far higher.

The World Food Program announced last month that it was reducing the cash transfer by 60 percent. From March, cash transfers for refugees from Rwf 7,600 down to 3,040 per person.

Rwanda has 134,664 refugees, including 74,437 DR Congo refugees, 60,227 Burundians, and 200 returnees in Kijote transit center. They’ve been getting cash instead of food.

Then last week, the WFP gave details of what was really going on in the region. It said it had been forced to implement ration cuts for refugees in Uganda of 40%, Kenya at also 40%, South Sudan (30%), Djibouti (23%) and Ethiopia (16%). As seen here, cuts in Rwanda are much bigher.

Tomson Phiri, the WFP spokesperson told The Chronicles in email that US$9 million is urgently required from March-June 2021 to avert reductions throughout this period, while US$20.6 million is needed throughout 2021 to maintain full support in Rwanda.

He said: “WFP relies entirely on voluntary contributions from donors to carry out its activities. When faced with funding constraints, WFP reduces rations to avoid a complete pipeline break that would be even more detrimental to the wellbeing of refugees as well as security in camps and coexistence between the refugees and host communities. Whilst this is a tough decision, this is an unprecedented and desperate situation and, without an immediate response from donors, we simply have no choice but to reduce our assistance to the refugees.”

“As WFP’s assistance to refugees in Rwanda is completely cash transfers, we can quickly reverse this situation with additional funding.”

East Africa hosts one of the largest displaced populations of any region in the world, with some 4.4 million refugees and 8.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) as of end-2020, according to the UN.

The WFP and the U.N. Refugee Agency UNHCR are appealing for US$266 million to end food ration cuts for refugees in East Africa.

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