Lilongwe – More than 35,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Malawi will run out of food in less than two months, the UN warned on Friday.
Without additional funding, food rations will be suspended from January, the peak of the lean season between harvests, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement.
The organisation said it needs 4.2 million dollars in 2019 to fill the financial gap.
“Life for thousands of refugee and asylum seeker families will be dire without food. This will have a devastating impact on the health and nutrition of thousands of families,” said UNHCR Malawi Representative, Monique Ekoko.
The poverty-stricken southern African nation has taken in thousands of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing political instability and social unrest in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions in recent years.
Most of them are coming from volatile parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where numerous rebel and militia groups are active.
Due to limited access to arable land and other means of making a living, the displaced are largely dependent on outside assistance.
The UN World Food Programme provides more than 90 per cent of the food consumed by refugees living in Malawi.
Malawi’s 17 million people often suffer from food shortages themselves.
In 2019, more than three million people are estimated to need food aid, mainly due to drought, according to government.
Most of the refugees have fled genocide, wars and violence in Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The camp was set up by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in 1994.
The Malawian government directed in 2014 that all refugees should move from Dzaleka Camp, which is about 50 kilometres away from the capital city Lilongwe – to Katili Camp in Karonga, which is over 500 kilometres away from the capital