World Food Program says it's struggling to feed Burundi refugees

Thursday June 2 2016

By KEVIN J. KELLEY
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THURSDAY, New York

The World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday that it is struggling to feed more than a quarter-million Burundi refugees who have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Nations (UN) agency said it requires $57 million (Sh5.7 billion) during the next six months to feed the 265,000 Burundians currently living in refugee camps as well as 1,000 more who arrive each week in neighbouring countries. Needs are particularly acute in Rwanda and Uganda, the WFP noted.

The WFP said it expects Tanzania to be hosting 170,000 Burundi refugees by year’s end, compared to 140,000 at present. The number of Burundians fleeing to Rwanda is projected to rise to 100,000 from a current total of 78,000. And the WFP anticipates a total of 60,000 Burundi refugees will have reached Uganda and DRC at the end of 2016.

Hunger is spreading inside Burundi as well, the UN reported. Nearly half of Burundi’s 10 million people are considered “food insecure,” the WFP said. “Of these,” the agency said, “about 590,000 are severely food insecure and require urgent emergency food assistance.”

“The sociopolitical crisis has aggravated an already fragile food security, nutrition and socio-economic context in Burundi,” the WFP said.

The refugee crisis and the shortage of food inside Burundi are due mainly to the political instability and attendant violence that followed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s election to a third term last July.