Refugees In Kenya Suffer Aid Cuts Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

By Kevin J. Kelley

The roughly half-million refugees living in Kenya are experiencing steep reductions in aid as the coronavirus pandemic causes some rich countries to limit their donations.

Cash allotments for the purchase of food have had to be cut by 30 per cent for residents of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday.


“Governments are dealing with the problem of COVID in their own countries,” WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon noted. And as a result of sharply increased expenditures to fight the pandemic, some of those governments are reducing funding for international refugee assistance, he said.

At the same time, the pandemic’s impact on supply chains has raised WFP’s cost of delivering aid to refugees throughout East Africa, Mr Smerdon added.

The agency now requires $323 million in donations over the next six months to assist the total of 2.7 million refugees living in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, and Djibouti.

That sum represents a 22 per cent increase from the same period in 2019, WFP stated.

Mr Smerdon declined to specify which countries have reduced their donations to the WFP refugee programme in East Africa.

 “We don’t want to name and blame donors,” he said, adding, “They know who they are.”

The United States, the single-largest contributor to WFP, is not among the donor nations that have cut back on their giving, Mr Smerdon did say. In fact, the US has increased its contributions this year, he noted.

Children in refugee camps in Kenya and neighbouring countries have been receiving less to eat as a result of funding shortfalls, WFP said.

The agency has been unable to provide take-home rations to children whose schools have been closed in response to the pandemic.

Extended school closures harm refugee children in additional ways, WFP pointed out.

They face an increased risk of teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, violence at home and child labour, the agency warned.

“Sadly, it is the poorest and most disadvantaged who suffer the most,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Eastern Africa regional director. “We simply cannot let this happen. Covid-19 cannot be an excuse for the world to turn its back on refugees at this terrible time.”

Source: Nation

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