WFP appeals for urgent funding to support Ethiopian refugees in Sudan

November 23, 2020

KHARTOUM — The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is calling for $24.6 million to meet the immediate needs of Ethiopian refugees seeking safety in Sudan. The conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that escalated on Nov. 4, has forced more than 30,000 Ethiopians to flee across the border into Sudan.

“We were in our town, doing our jobs, when we heard a huge explosion and started to flee to the Sudanese border. The event was abrupt, and no one even has money in their pockets. Many departed from their families and now they don’t know where they are,” said Dejen Fantay, a 25-year-old refugee in Um Rakuba Camp in Gedaref State.

“I want to thank the Sudanese government, local authorities, WFP and other organizations helping to support us to survive here,” he added.

As of Nov. 19, UNHCR estimates that over 31,000 people had arrived in Sudan and were in urgent need of food and other support. People continue to stream into the country every day from Ethiopia, and estimates suggest that up to 200,000 people could take refuge in eastern Sudan in the coming six months if instability in Tigray continues.

“The humanitarian situation on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan is quickly deteriorating and is extremely urgent. WFP is playing a critical role in providing food and logistics support together with UN agencies, the Sudanese government and local partners,” said Dr. Hameed Nuru, WFP representative and country director in Sudan.

“All actors need to step up to respond to this dire situation. We appeal to donors to give generously, so that we can save lives in this crisis,” he added.

WFP is providing hot meals for refugees arriving at reception centers. Where cooking facilities are not available, WFP supplies fortified high-energy biscuits. Once refugees reach the camps after passing through reception centers, they receive rations including lentils, sorghum, oil and salt.

WFP is also providing logistics support to the humanitarian community — establishing supply hubs for the storage of food and other vital humanitarian assistance. WFP is also playing a critical role in transporting humanitarian responders to the affected areas on the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).

WFP has rapidly dispatched enough food supplies to feed 60,000 people for one month. However, the food had to be borrowed from existing programs. The influx of new arrivals will strain WFP’s ability to respond to existing needs in Sudan as it deals with multiple crises throughout the country.

WFP faces a shortfall of $153 million over the next six months for its operation to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable in Sudan, including $20 million to provide food and nutrition assistance to arriving Ethiopian refugees, $3.8 million to increase the number of UNHAS flights to eastern Sudan, and $750,000 for road repairs to allow responders to reach remote and inaccessible areas where refugees are arriving.

The additional funding is essential to ensure that food insecure people, who are at their most vulnerable, can receive continuous support over the next six months. — SG

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