Dakar - As the aftershocks of recent
political turmoil and violence in Togo continue to be felt, the United
Nations World Food Programme today appealed for just US$3 million to ensure
66,500 people forced from their homes do not go hungry in the months ahead.
The troubles in Togo were precipitated by the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema in February and the violence that accompanied the succession process. At least 100 people are known to have died in clashes around the April elections and many remain too frightened to return home.
So far, WFP has managed to borrow from its other operations but with food stocks now running low and no sign of the refugees returning home, WFP is launching an appeal. Food aid is required to feed 21,000 refugees in Benin and 17,000 in Ghana, as well as 10,000 people who fled seeking sanctuary within Togo itself. The remaining 18,500 are members of local communities which are hosting the displaced from Togo and therefore have less access to adequate food supplies themselves.
"The victims of Togo's turmoil are some of the least acknowledged in the world," said WFP Regional Director for West Africa, Mustapha Darboe. "Thus far we have been able to provide for their most immediate needs, but we now need to ensure we have the resources to continue to do so in the months ahead."
Nearly 9,000 of those who have left their homes are housed in two refugee camps run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Benin. The rest have been taken in by local communities in the three countries who have assumed a significant additional burden.
In order to avoid long-term dependency on food aid, outside the refugee camps WFP intends to phase out free food distributions after two months to be replaced by assistance designed to target the most vulnerable and encourage self-reliance. These will include projects in which people receive food in return for work on schemes designed to preserve or create roads, schools and health centres and free school meals to encourage children to continue their education.
"WFP is mounting a regional response to a regional problem," said Darboe. "We obviously hope that Togo will quickly find a political solution that is acceptable to all so that people can return to their homes in safety and with their minds at peace."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.
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