The United Nations has been forced to cut food rations for nearly 800,000 African refugees because of insufficient funding from donor nations. Some refugees have seen their rations reduced by up to 60 percent.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, the UN Refugee Agency and World Food Programme (WFP) called on donor nations to make up a $186 million (135-million-euro) funding shortfall, which would restore life-saving rations for many African refugees.
"Many refugees in Africa depend on WFP food to stay alive and are now suffering because of a shortage of funding," the organization's chief, Ertharin Cousin, said in a news release.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency announced that it needed an additional $39 million to fund nutritional support for vulnerable refugees across Africa. The two agencies warned that the drastic cuts in food rations could push many refugees to the brink of starvation.
Children are particularly at risk and could suffer permanent mental and physical damage if their diets were even slightly reduced, according to Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The situation is most dire in Chad, where some 300,000 people from Sudan's Darfur region and the Central African Republic have sought refuge. Their food rations have been cut by 60 percent, leaving them with just 850 calories per day. According to the WFP, an adult needs 2,100 calories daily in order to remain healthy.
Food rations in the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan have been cut by 50 percent. About 338,000 refugees in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uganda have seen their rations cut by between 5 and 44 percent.
"It's unacceptable that in today's world of plenty for refugees to face chronic hunger," Guterres said.
slk/mkg (AFP, dpa)