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WFP Cuts Refugees’ Food Ratios In Rwanda As Funding Declines

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The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced plans to reduce food assistance to refugees in Rwanda by a dramatic 60% as of March 2021.

Some 135,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees in camps in Rwanda rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs each month.

“This is a desperate situation and, without an immediate response from donors, we simply have no choice but to reduce our assistance to the refugees,” said WFP Country Director Edith Heines.

She added that, “While WFP appreciates the support received so far, we are urgently appealing to donors to quickly come to the aid of the refugees and provide additional funding so that we can return to full rations and avoid any prolonged negative impacts.”

WFP provides refugees with a monthly cash transfer to buy food in local markets.

Each person receives Rwf7,600 (US$ 7.72) under a full ration allocation, which provides the basic foods to meet minimum nutrition requirements for that person.

WFP requires US$9million to avert ration reductions from March through June 2021, and US$20.6 million to continue full assistance to refugees throughout 2021. If no new funding is received, deeper reductions will be necessary in the coming months.

Despite the reductions, WFP said in a statement to Taarifa that it will maintain full rations of targeted nutrition support to refugees identified as particularly vulnerable, such as children under two years, schoolchildren, and pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as people living with HIV and tuberculosis patients under treatment.

A total of 51,000 refugees including 37,000 schoolchildren are being assisted.

This comes at a time when many refugees have been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WFP data from June and November 2020 noted an increased reliance on external aid among refugees since the onset of the pandemic.

Ration reductions are likely to cause widespread food insecurity and potentially lead to increased tensions within the refugee community.

In late 2017 through mid-2018, WFP was forced to reduce rations by twenty-five percent due to funding shortfalls.

A WFP survey in 2018 found that as a result the percentage of refugee families with poor household eating habits doubled.

In 2021, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and WFP are jointly moving towards needs-based humanitarian assistance instead of the current blanket assistance for refugees.

This exercise will further allow scarce donor resources to be prioritized for the most vulnerable. The strategy will also strive to create more access to livelihood opportunities for refugees.

“This new approach will allow us to prioritise funding and focus on those refugees who need our help the most,” said Heines.

“But in order for it to be successful, the refugee operation must be fully supported at this critical stage to ensure we have the support of the refugee community as we transition to this new way of programming.”

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Rwanda.

Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains.

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CHOGM 2021 Postponed Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

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Paul Kagame and Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC are expected to officially announce the postponement of CHOGM 2021 as a result of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

President Kagame said in a statement that having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the decision has been made to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time. 

The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly, the statement said. 

“The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time,” Kagame said.

The Cmmonwealth Secretary-General is queues saying that, “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods. And while it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time to discuss many of these critical issues, we must be mindful of the huge risks large meetings pose to all.

“I want to thank the Government and people of Rwanda for their professionalism, support, patience and their impeccable readiness to hold CHOGM. And I want to thank all our member countries and, in particular, the United Kingdom as our Chair-in-Office and India, who have suffered so grievously in these trying times. I look forward warmly to a time when we can be reunited with the Commonwealth family, face-to-face, in Rwanda when the conditions allow for us to do so safely and securely.”

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Boat Donated By Kagame To Nkombo Islanders Not Operational

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Residents of Nkombo Island will have to wait longer to travel on a boat donated to them by President Paul Kagame.

Nkombo island is located on Lake Kivu in Rusizi district. Residents last saw this boat in October last year when it was officially handed to the district.

According to authorities of Rusizi district, the delay to use this boat is because drivers are still undergoing intensive training until they learn to operate the water vessel.

Currently the boat is docked in Karongi district and will only be available when the drivers have fully completed training.

President Paul Kagame has a special attachment to the people living on Nkombo Island. He donated  the second boat to the islanders on June 29, 2015 while addressing opinion leaders in Rusizi district.

“I am giving you an even bigger vessel, please use it to relate, trade and utilize all the opportunities your district has to offer,” advised Kagame.

In 2010, Kagame donated a passenger boat with a capacity to carry 100 passengers and 40 tons of luggage. The island hosts over 180,000 residents.

For the past regimes, this island was extremely neglected and treated as though it was part of Democratic Republic of Congo formerly Zaire. Previous governments ridiculed and despised Nkombo islanders as backward people and attached them to ‘Bashi’, a Congolese tribe.

With this deep neglect sanctioned by previous regimes, Nkombo islanders invented a language known as ‘Amahavu’ a mixture of two dialects; Congo’s Lingala and Kinyarwanda.

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President Tshisekedi Orders Martial Law Rule In Kivu, Ituri

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President Felix Tshisekedi has ordered rule of martial law in DRCs North Kivu and Ituri provinces effective on Thursday, May 6.

The Congolese President called on the people of the two provinces “to cooperate closely with the military authorities deployed by denouncing enemies of the people and complicity at whatever level” with those perpetrating violence.

The shift in management of this part of the country is aimed at stemming the bloodshed and returning order to the region, the president said in an address on national television Monday.

During the period of martial law, Congo’s security forces will have the right to search homes, seize weapons and prohibit travel, Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Kasongo Mwema Yambab Yamba, said in a separate address.

The military and police authorities will also have the right to ban publications and meetings deemed contrary to public order and to prosecute those suspected of violating the peace, he said.

Eastern Congo with population of 20 million people, borders Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. This region hosts at least 120 armed groups

Violence in eastern Congo includes numerous conflicts over control of land and resources, protection of local communities, and rebellions linked to neighboring countries.

Ituri and North Kivu are rich in metals like gold and coltan and armed groups including alleged criminal networks in the army sometimes profit from their trade.

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