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Burundi Refugees in Miserable Condition, Assistance Programme Strapped for Cash

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Burundi refugees
Burundian refugees gather on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kagunga village in Kigoma region in western Tanzania. voa

The U.N. refugee agency warns that funds for humanitarian assistance for hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees have dried up, leaving only enough cash for the most essential needs.

More than 420,000 Burundi refugees, who have sought refuge in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance; but, the U.N. refugee agency says it has practically run out of cash.

Only 19 percent of the agency’s revised $429 million appeal has been received. UNHCR spokesman Andrei Mahecic says “hard choices must be made. With so little money on hand, priorities must be rearranged to make sure life-saving needs are met”.

“But, there is a cost, there is a human cost attached to it,” Mahecic said. “There simply is not enough aid to go around. The services are not kept up to the standards that they should be and, obviously, in many cases, we are now facing the situation where shelter is by now dilapidated. The tents would need replacing. Eighty-eight-thousand refugees are still living under plastic sheeting, obviously vulnerable to heavy rains and so on.”

Mahecic says many refugees risk catching communicable diseases, such as malaria and acute watery diarrhoea. He says health care services must be urgently expanded. Because the money is not available, he says only 56 percent of identified survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are receiving the physical and psychological care they need.

The World Food Program, which also is suffering from underfunding, has been forced to cut monthly food rations to 60 percent in Tanzania — home to the largest number of refugees.

The UNHCR is appealing for international support so it can maintain its critical humanitarian assistance for Burundian refugees in the countries of asylum. The Burundians fled their country after violence surged in 2015. Many of them are women and children.

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WFP: Nearly 2 Million Mozambique Cyclone Survivors Face Imminent Food Shortage

The impact of these two disasters lingers on, threatening widespread hunger among survivors of these twin disasters

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food shortages
Survivors of Cyclone Idai wait in an abandoned and derelict building near Nhamatanda, about 50 kilometers from Beira, in Mozambique, March, 22, 2019. VOA

The World Food Program warns 1.9 million Mozambicans battered by two devastating cyclones earlier this year are at risk of severe food shortages without urgent international assistance.

Hundreds of people were killed, tens of thousands made homeless and livelihoods lost when Cyclones Idai and Kenneth hit Mozambique with devastating force in March and April. The destructive power of the two storms has wreaked havoc on the country’s infrastructure and agriculture.

Many crops that were about to be harvested and farm infrastructure were destroyed.  The impact of these two disasters lingers on, threatening widespread hunger among survivors of these twin disasters.

food shortages
A man waits to receive food aid outside a camp for displaced survivors of cyclone Idai in Dombe, Mozambique, April 4, 2019. VOA

World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel says more than 1.6 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and the worst is yet to come.

“It is expected that the upcoming lean season it will be very difficult in Mozambique with just below 2 million people projected to be in crisis situation if there is no humanitarian intervention before,” Verhoosel said. “The lean season is the period from October this year until the next harvest season in March 2020.”

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Verhoosel says WFP is planning to assist more than 560,000 people every month through October in both cyclone and drought affected areas.  He says his agency hopes to scale up its humanitarian operation when the lean season kicks in in October.

If the money is available, he says WFP will provide food rations to one-and-one quarter million people every month until March when the next harvest season begins.  He says WFP will need slightly more than $100 million to implement its recovery plan over the next six months. (VOA)