COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

Double food Ratio for Refugees in Uganda.

World Food Program donation

In Uganda, the UN agency World Food Program (WFP) distributes two months food ratio at once to refugees. In a bid to prevent spread of COVID-19 as Refugees and Migration RM-RON Journalists Alex Pithua and Gloria Laker  Adiiki Aciro  highlights the initiative.

In May, the World food program (WFP) began distribution of two months food ratio to the refugees in resettlement areas across the country, an initiative WFP called a double relief food ratio to over 824,000 refugees.

WFP ‘double relief food ratio to refugees’ initiative commenced at a time when Uganda entered almost its 3rd month of covid-19 lock-down to cater for the months of May and June 2020.

According to WFP the double food ratio also serves the refugees in Palabek settlements in Acholi region and Kiryandongo refugee settlement in mid-western Uganda.

West Nile resettlement food collection points in Adjumani settlement, Bidibidi settlement, Imvepi settlement, Palorinya settlement and Rhino Camp settlements have remained food collection points.

“And all food are packed in quantities maize grain 17.64 kgs, Pulses 4.2 kgs, vegetable oil 1.26 litter, salt 0.15 kg per person and effort by WFP to minimize the amount of time that refugees need to spend together at WFP food collection sites, to further help protect them against any potential risk of COVID-19”.

In an Email interview with Uganda Refugee and Migration Media Network (RM), the WFP communications officer West Nile region Mr. Petroc Wilton said “the reason for this double distribution, and for the prepackaging of in-kind food, is to minimize the amount of time that refugees need to spend together at WFP food collection sites, to further help protect them against any potential risk of COVID-19”.

He further explained that; “WFP has just started the May distribution cycle. In this month we are distributing a double ration of food assistance, both via in-kind food (which will be pre-packaged) and cash, to cover the months of both May and June. The following distribution will be in July”

Petroc, further explained the distribution of the double ratio to the refugees are done by the WFP by ensuring all the government of Uganda directives and measures to control the spread of the corona virus for example keeping 4 meters distances between refugees at the food collection centers, washing their hands with soap, and checking temperatures of refugees at food collection points using temperature monitoring machine.

“Following the lead of the Government of Uganda and Ministry of Health, WFP has moved quickly from the first outbreak of COVID-19 in Uganda to ensure that measures are in place at our food and cash distribution points to help keep the people we serve as safe as possible from COVID-19. These include hand-washing, social distancing and temperature checks at our food collection points; and rigorous measures throughout our supply chain to safeguard the warehouses where our food is stored” Petroc

Uganda is a peaceful home to thousands of refugees in Africa from South Sudan, Burundi, Somali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Upper Sudan and Kenya.

However, WFP attributes its success in supporting refugees to a strong teamwork and collaboration with the government of Uganda, UNHCR and other partners working with them for the successful support in delivering humanitarian food assistance to the refugees in Uganda.

“In context of the measures implemented by the Government of Uganda to protect both Ugandans and refugees from COVID-19, WFP appreciates the support of the Government in providing the necessary travel authorizations to enable these distributions of life saving WFP food to continue.

“As WFP we would like to thank our partners, including the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the UNHCR, the political and technical leadership of the refugee-hosting districts; the refugee leadership structures including Refugee Welfare Councils (RWCs); and the refugees themselves, for all their help in ensuring that the people we serve comply with these measures to protect themselves”. Petroc

WFP further appeals to their partners, leaders and the refugees themselves to remain vigilant and continue with strict social distancing and hand hygiene, even outside the WFP food collection areas in the refugee settlements.

Hopes for Urban Refugees    

On positive note, Hon Musa Ecweru, Ugandan Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness and Refugees said plans are under way to distribute relief food to urban refugees during the Covid 19 lockdown “but after the lock-down, I will be encouraging refugees in urban centers who are not doing business to relocate back to the settlement for our easy support” Hon Ecweru.

Ecweru’s response brings hope to Uganda’s urban refugees who have been encountering another uncertainty outside their home land, the Novel Corona Virus has brought a painful experience to urban refugees who struggle to eat in the lockdown.

According to Ecweru, Some of the refugees absorbed in Uganda’s employment sectors like the industrialists, wood work/carpentry and mechanics who resumed work will remain in the centers to do their business

Refugee and migration discovered that the employed refugees are not only paying tax and contributing to the development of Uganda’s economy, but they are also carrying ultimate responsibility of sharing the little they make to put food on the table for their families and sometimes even fellow refugee neighbors.

Alex Pithua & Gloria Laker Adiiki Aciro are trained peace & Development journalists. They live in Uganda. Email; refugeeonlinenews@gmail.com. Twitter; @Online Refugee