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Refugees in Kenya days away from losing food rations

WFP may cut rations for South Sudanese refugees because of low funding
WFP may cut rations for South Sudanese refugees because of low funding
WFP/Tine Frank

War victims from South Sudan have fled by the thousands to neighboring Kenya. These refugees have been receiving life-saving food aid at camps from the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But now tragically those food rations will be cut starting in August.

They are not alone. South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan will also experience reductions in their food rations.

WFP, which relies on voluntary donations, lacks the funds to keep up with the humanitarian disaster from South Sudan's war. In a report last week, WFP warned the lack of funds, "may worsen the already critical nutrition situation among children." Super Cereal, a vitamin enriched food that fights child malnutrition, will be among foods reduced this August.

Over 400,000 people have fled South Sudan since the escalation of conflict there in December of 2013. Every day 1500 more people cross the border, sometimes after walking for days with little or no food.

High malnutrition rates have been reported among the refugees. With children, the malnutrition is especially dangerous as it can cause lasting physical or mental damage, or even death.

If new funding does not come soon, WFP says many of their refugee programs will come to a complete halt by October. In Ethiopia, WFP says cutting rations will reserve any progress made on fighting malnutrition. Donations to WFP need to happen quickly because it can take weeks or even months for food to arrive.

UNICEF says at the Kenya camps, "the number of acutely malnourished children in need of intensive nutritional and medical support remains high." The UN children's agency is also short on funding.

With humanitarian disasters from South Sudan to the Middle East, humanitarian aid agencies are struggling to get enough resources. The number of refugees has climbed to levels not seen since World War II.

WFP is also facing shortfalls in funding for its relief work inside South Sudan. In addition, conflict in the Central African Republic has drastically increased hunger in the region.