Since 2017, some half a million people have fled the gas and mineral rich province of Cabo Delgado, as violence and COVID-19 continue to increase.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is currently assisting up to 400,000 people in Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces, with a monthly family food basket of cereals, oil, dried beans and lentils, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
Conflict, climate change and COVID-19 are devastating families in Cabo Delgado. @mlfornara, our representative in Mozambique talks through what UNICEF is doing to help. pic.twitter.com/Kwy4XxAHfm
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) January 6, 2021
The baskets provide least 81 per cent of the daily kilocalorie needs of displaced families and contribute to preventing already traumatized and vulnerable families from falling victim to exploitation or employing negative coping mechanisms for survival.
WFP is also providing cash-based assistance for families to shop for basic items in local markets by redeeming vouchers equivalent to about $50 per month.
Survival under threat
Citing resource shortages, the UN agency noted that over the next three months, it may be forced to reduce or halt vital assistance to conflict-affected people, raising concerns over food and health supplies, as well as tensions within host communities.
“Internally displaced persons are especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 because they are crowded together in camps, host families’ backyards and outdoors with no or inadequate shelter, health services and access to clean water and sanitation”, said Antonella D’Aprile, WFP Country Representative in Mozambique.
“Thousands of children and adolescents who lost their parents and close family need our protection and care”, she added.
Resources run short
The Government pointed out that thousands in Cabo Delgado alone risk serious hunger and malnutrition.
And as some 565,000 people have fled their homes, humanitarian operations face shortages amounting to $108 million.
WFP currently requires $10.5 million each month to provide food assistance to 500,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 250,000 to host communities affected by the conflict in northern Mozambique.
While WFP needs $132.4 million to ensure humanitarian food assistance for the next 12 months, as of late December, only $24.4 million has been secured.
“Without sufficient funding, the food supply will be compromised”, the UN food relief agency spelled out.
Against this backdrop, Ms. D’Aprile said that “it is incredibly timely to join efforts now and protect the food and nutrition security and livelihood of Mozambicans…impacted by armed attacks, Cyclone Kenneth and the COVID-19 pandemic”.
With sufficient resources and access, WFP would be able to deploy humanitarian aid by road, sea and air, to deliver life-saving assistance assist each month to some 750,000 IDPs and people in the host community.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its role in saving lives during emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict and disasters.