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Refugees in Rwanda ‘desperate’ after reduced aid rations

Refugees in three main camps in Rwanda say they are suffering from hunger after the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) slashed their assistance.

In February, the WFP announced the reduction of food – and cash from 7,600 Rwandan francs ($7.6; £5.5) for one person per month to 3,040 francs – “because aid from donors has considerably reduced” during the Covid pandemic.

More than 100,000 refugees – mainly Burundians and Congolese -depend on UN aid, after fleeing violence in their countries.

Refugees in the Mahama camp in Rwanda’s eastern region and those living in Kigeme in the south told the BBC’s Yves Bucyana that they were suffering and some residents had taken their own lives.

“Hunger is going to kill us. You can’t survive on 100 Rwandan francs per day, if you see the high price in food markets here,” said Confiance Uwamahoro, a Congolese refugee.

Edson Munyakarambi, also Congolese, said one man in the camp grew so desperate that he took his own life.

“I was there when we buried that one, another was recently rescued also trying to kill himself but survived,” he said.

At Mahama camp, home to more than 54,000 Burundian refugees, a growing number of them have registered to return home rather than “face hunger” in Rwanda.

WFP spokesperson in Rwanda Emily Fredenberg said “the international community had been very supportive to refugees though the funding gap in 2021 remains quite wide”.

She added that WFP continues to appeal for additional resources and hopes in the coming months it “can secure sufficient resources to increase the ratio size once again”.

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