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U.N. Struggling to Feed 90,000 Refugees in Sudan

8/26/2005 8:53pm

NAIROBI, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Friday it was struggling to feed 90,000 Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan with a near-50 percent shortfall in funding and breaks in supplies looming.

Skip to next paragraph "We need the world's support to keep feeding," said the U.N. World Food Programme's Sudan country director Ramiro Lopes da Silva. "Their situation is precarious."

The influx of refugees into Sudan began in the 1970s and 1980s when civil war, drought and famine in Ethiopia forced thousands to flee. Their numbers swelled with the Ethiopian-Eritrean border conflict of the late 1990s.

WFP said the refugees, based in 12 camps, have scant possibilities of supporting themselves through farming or local employment. And far fewer than expected had sought voluntary repatriation due to concern over conditions at home.

Over half-way through a two-year feeding operation, only $9.4 million of $17.7 million funds needed until March 2006 had been received, WFP added in a statement released in Nairobi.

Malnutrition rates were rising to "worrying" levels.

"Food distributions to the refugees are in real danger of being scaled down or even interrupted because of the lack of funds, and because we are battling to feed more refugees than were expected to remain in Sudan at this time," Da Silva added.

As well as the funding problem, insecurity and problems contracting trucks to carry food aid from Port Sudan on the Red Sea were hampering WFP's efforts to maintain consistent supplies of food assistance to the refugees, it said.

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