The World Food Programme (WFP) has made the heartbreaking announcement that it is being forced to cut down rations to refugees and internally displaced people in South Sudan due to paucity of funds.

“It is a very painful decision to take from the hungry to give to the starving, but this is the reality; because of the alarming rise of food insecurity in remote locations, WFP has to reduce the size of its rations in some communities, including refugees and internally displaced people, which are in a less precarious situation,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Representative and Country Director in South Sudan.

The move is likely to affect 700,000 people who are already receiving only 70 percent of their daily calory requirements. A full ration provides 2,100 kilocalories per person and 50 percent is 1,050 kilocalories. The move couldn’t have come at a worse time given the raging COVID-19 pandemic and the WFP needs to make difficult choices. The biggest brunt will be borne by nearly 440,000 internally displaced people in Bentiu, Bor, Juba, Malakal, Mingkaman and Wau as well as nearly 260,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Ethiopia and Sudan, who rely on WFP assistance to meet most of their food needs.

“We must try to save the lives of those likely to face famine during the lean season if they do not receive sufficient assistance. WFP simply does not have enough resources to provide full rations to all of those in South Sudan who rely on our assistance to survive,” explained Hollingworth, adding, “We know how hard it is for vulnerable people who struggle every day to survive and provide for their children. By introducing these reductions now, WFP is making sure that all refugees and displaced people will continue to receive our food assistance albeit in smaller quantities.”

WFP food ration includes cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization needs USD 125 million immediately to fund its food assistance operations for the next six months. AT present the WFP is prioritizing 10 hard-to-reach counties where food insecurity is dire, and people are in emergency or catastrophic levels of hunger. These include: Pibor, Akobo, Tonj North, Tonj South, Tonj East, Aweil South, Bor South, Twic East, Duk and Ayod.

*Feature image by Gabriela Vivacqua, courtesy WFP USA.