Burundi + 2 more

EC Euro 5 million donation avoids ration cuts for 273,000 refugees in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM - The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed a €5 million contribution from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) that has staved off new cuts in rations for 273,000 refugees in Tanzanian camps

Chronic funding shortages have already resulted in a long-lasting, 20 per cent average reduction of rations for the beneficiaries, one of the largest concentrations of refugees in Africa. Without the ECHO contribution, more drastic cuts would have been necessary.

"We are extremely grateful for this generous donation from ECHO, the largest we have received this year," said Patrick Buckley, WFP Country Director for Tanzania. "If these funds were not available, we wouldn't have been able to continue feeding Burundian and Congolese refugees in Tanzania, who are some of the most vulnerable people on the continent."

"But we're still urgently in need of additional funds now to enable us to maintain a consistent supply of food for the refugees beyond mid-January," Buckley added. "We hope that other donors will be able to step in as ECHO has." WFP said it requires US$10.1 million to ensure sufficient food commodities for the refugee population until April 2008.

Tanzania is currently hosting one of the two largest populations of refugees in all of Africa, rivalling that of Chad. They live in 8 camps in the northwest of the country. The vast majority have fled instability and violence in neighbouring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WFP food rations are essential because the refugees have hardly any means of earning money. A chronic shortage of funds has forced WFP to reduce rations to 1,745 kilocalories a day, just 83 per cent of the widely accepted minimum daily energy requirement of 2,100 kilocalories. The ECHO donation allows WFP food stocks to extend until mid-January, based on a full ration distribution.

Over the past two years, the European Commission has contributed more than US$22 million to WFP's refugee assistance programme in Tanzania, making it the second-largest donor to the operation.

As well as assisting refugees, WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation in Tanzania reaches more than 10,000 vulnerable people in surrounding host communities, including school meals for children and assistance for HIV-affected households.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP - We Feed People.

WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=999.

WFP now has a dedicated ISDN line in Italy for quality two-way interviews with WFP officials.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel +254-20-7622179; Cell, +254-735-528911
Brenda Barton, Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602,
Cell. +39-3472582217 (ISDN line available)
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Cell. +44-7968-008474
Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304
Cécile Sportis, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33-1-70385330, Cell. +33-6161-68266
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Cell. +1-646-8241112, luescher@un.org