MAURITANIA: Malian Refugees Face Starvation due to Food Aid cut

NOUAKCHOTT JULY 10, 2015 (CISA) – 50,000 Malian refugees are at risk following the suspension of food aid to their camp in south-eastern Mauritania the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

“We have literally been without rations for two months now,” Amsaleh Ould Mohamed, president of the management team at the M’Berra camp, told IRIN.

WFP which supplies the majority of the camp’s food aid, including rice, vegetables, oil, sugar and salt, says it has insufficient funds to continue operations and has warned of a significant increase in acute malnutrition, particularly among children under five, and pregnant and lactating women.

WFP already cut supplies in June, reducing rice rations by more than half, from 12 kilograms per person to 5.4 kilograms.

“Any further stop in regular rations could degrade the health status of the camp,” said Mohamed Gbane, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical coordinator for Mauritania.

Gbane explained that malnutrition “opens the door” to other illnesses such as respiratory infections and diarrhoea.

WFP says it needs around $600,000 per month to cover the cost of food distribution in the camp. As of early July, the project was just 35 percent funded through September.

“The camp has been totally forgotten by donors because today international politics are focused on other crises like Syria and Ebola,” said April Benedict, head of the MSF mission in Mauritania.

According to Benedict, the increased fighting in northern Mali which has seen a resurrection of attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers persists despite several truces, preliminary peace deals, and increased engagement from the international community.

“It was naively believed that after the signing of the peace agreements in Mali, that refugees would return home, but… recent attacks and looting of cities and villages in northern Mali have confirmed that it will still take time before the refugees feel safe enough to go back,” Benedict said.

According to the UN, the violence has driven the number of people displaced in the country above 100,000, many of them urgently needing food, water and shelter as time runs out before the rainy season begins.

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