Malawi: WFP Halves Food Assistance for Refugees in Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi — The World Food Program in Malawi says a funding shortfall has forced it to cut by one-half food rations for more than 50,000 people at the country’s only refugee camp.

The food cuts come at a time when refugees at the Dzaleka camp are complaining of inadequate food assistance, a situation that has forced some of the refugees to voluntarily return home.

Earlier this month, 38 refugees from Burundi returned home, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said plans are under way to repatriate another group of more than 50 refugees.

Simon Denhere, acting director for the WFP in Malawi, told VOA via a messaging app that the shortfall is because of a number of factors, including the high cost of food both locally and globally.

“The conflict in Ukraine, the enforcement of encampment policy by the Malawi government, and rising number of refugees worldwide, mobilizing resources, is increasingly becoming a challenge,” Denhere said.

Dzaleka is home to upwards of 50,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The WFP provides monthly cash assistance at the camp — where the refugees face several challenges, including insufficient shelter and inadequate health, water, and sanitation services.

The agency says the assistance provided was designed to meet the minimum recommended energy needs of 2,100 kilocalories.

However, it says the food cuts mean the refugees will now be receiving a monthly cash allowance of $5.90 per person.

Niyibigira Goreth, a refugee from Burundi and a community leader at Dzaleka refugee camp, told VOA the food cut likely will force many vulnerable women and girls into prostitution and men into theft to earn a living.

“Just imagine having 5,000 [Malawi Kwacha] a month, how can you have all you have to eat within a month, it’s a small amount of money per month. It will impact the refugees, some of them may go on prostitution and others may become thieves,” Goreth said.