United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it is forced to reduce food rations to Bhutanese refugees living in eastern Nepal, owing to food and funding shortages.
"For the first time in 18 years, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is being forced to cut food rations from today to 90,000 refugees from Bhutan living in seven camps in eastern Nepal due to severe food and funding shortages," a statement issued by the UN aid agency said.
WFP Country Representative in Nepal, Richard Ragan, said, "We are extremely concerned about the consequences of reduced rations on the health of the refugees." He warned that without urgent cash resources this could be the first of many ration cuts over the next few months.
Citing rapidly diminishing food stocks and cash resources, WFP it is appealing to donors for US$ 4 million to prevent additional cuts and continue feeding the refugees through to January 2010.
The reduction will result in a daily loss of 700 kilocalories and 14 grams of protein per refugee per day. WFP normally provides bi-monthly take-home rations of about 2,100 kilo calories per person per day of rice, lentils, vegetable oil, sugar, salt and fortified wheat-soya-blend.
WFP statement further said, "The Bhutanese refugees have no legal right to own land or work, leaving them almost entirely dependent upon WFP food to meet their basic needs. Without their full ration, the most vulnerable refugees will be forced to eat fewer meals or decrease portion sizes, leading to reduced nutritional status.
More than 80,000 refugees have expressed their interest in third-country resettlement since the resettlement programme began in November 2007. The third-country resettlement process is expected to take up to five years to complete. nepalnews.com