Last week, it was reported that the United Nations has to make seriously detrimental food cuts to the already inadequate rations to many refugees in Africa. The most relevant of the refugee camps that have been impacted are those located in eastern Chad, a place that houses mainly Darfuri refugees. According to Radio Dabanda, the numbers for some camps has dropped from 12 kilograms of rations per month to 4 kilograms of rations. The article also states that the refugees are only receiving three items: sorghum (similar to a grain), beans, and oil. The Darfuris have been resorting to eating a toxic seed that if not dried and baked properly in bread, will kill those who eat it. Some may ask: why they would risk eating something that could possibly kill them? But when they are so undernourished and hungry, any food option is viable.
The consequences: What do all these cuts in food rations really break down to? To start, the lack of food will directly lead to malnutrition and in some cases, death. The first and most likely the largest group to be impacted will be children. For many children and other vulnerable groups in refugee camps, if they do not get an adequate amount of proper food and nutrients within a vital growth phase of their early lives, it will have harmful consequences on their mental and physical development.
Imagine you are watching your children starving to death; you will feel you must do something. Families will also have to reorient their lives around being able to find and even afford food. Children will be forced to drop out of school to support their families. This is a very dangerous problem that will result and according to the UN, but not the only one. They state that this could also lead to a rise in the amount of “survival sex”, forcing women and young girls sell their bodies to earn money for food. In a place where women are already constantly in fear of mutilations and rape, this is heartbreaking that they would have to resort to this.
All of this information indicates that the situation for Darfuri refugees is the most dangerous of its type, and hence requiring our immediate attention. We must act before its too late and we must call upon donors, governments and all humanitarian organizations to double their effort to provide the indispensable food aid to the refugees and internally displaced Darfuri genocide victims who have endured a great deal of suffering for more than a decade.
The ultimate question, is what can we do to help? What can the ordinary person do? There is always something that you can do. You can donate to the UN. You ask the United States governments, other donors, and NGOs to increase their humanitarian aid and you can donate to DWAG to help us speak up and make our voices heard and demand that international community takes immediate action to save lives in the refugees and IDPs.
By Genevieve Turcott, Outreach and Government Relations Intern
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