Osire Refugees Get Food Relief

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By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun delivering vital food supplies to 6 000 refugees and asylum seekers in Osire camp following the US$380 000 contribution from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

WFP is responsible for providing a full monthly food aid ration to all the inhabitants of Osire, which houses around 4 700 Angolans along with hundreds of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and other African countries.

“As conditions in their home countries improve, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract funding to support these refugees, many of whom remain entirely dependent on our assistance,” said John Prout, WFP Country Director for Namibia.

“Hopefully, a lasting solution can soon be found but until then WFP’s food aid will remain absolutely critical.”

The CERF was established by the UN system and donors in March 2006 with the objective of assisting the UN to respond in a timely manner to sudden crises, and to provide essential funding for chronic under-funded and “forgotten” operations.

“The CERF funds are pretty much a last resort for us and will only ensure that WFP has sufficient food supplies for the refugees until March next year but the programme is currently due to run until the end of 2008,” said Prout.
“We are urging donors to remember the plight of the Osire refugees and to consider contributing additional funds.”

WFP needs another US$600 000 to fund its refugee operations until the end of 2008. WFP has provided food aid to refugees in Namibia since 2000 when over 20 000 people fled across the border following a major upsurge of fighting in Angola. The number of refugees fell after the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002 but thousands are still unwilling to return home voluntarily.

WFP’s refugee feeding programme is conducted in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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