The number of Burundian refugees arriving in Uganda since November 2014 is now over 7,700 with the refugees coming in at a rate of approximately 144 persons a day since June 1, the World Food Programme in Uganda has revealed.

According to the WFP, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, are reviewing the inter-agency contingency planning figure of 15,000 refugees till the end of 2015 including the 12,000 refugees that lived in the southwest settlements prior to the new influx.

The agency says all the approximately 8,000 new arrivals have been granted refugee status and are in the process of being resettled by OPM, UNHCR and partners.

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“To facilitate provision of assistance by partners, the Burundians are to be granted prima facie refugee status and re-settled immediately on arrival in Uganda,” a WFP release indicates, adding that  the WFP is providing relief food and nutrition assistance for all refugees wit the available resources.

“Providing food and nutrition assistance in Uganda to 15,000 Burundian refugees for the next 12 months from June 2015 will cost WFP USD2.5million, the release states, and adds that  already some money has been pledge4d by Australia (US$2.3m), Canada, (US$1.57m) France (US$200,000) and the USA, which has pledged USD 15.4million.  

The WFP is one of about 10 humanitarian agencies providing assistance to the new arrivals, others being UNHCR, UNICEF, UNFPA and NGOs, while the American Refugee Committee (ARC) is managing distribution of the WFP hot meal on behalf of UNHCR.

The WFP is currently supporting approximately 300,000 refugees monthly at a cost of about USD5.5 million each month, and is providing hot meals at Juru and Kabazana reception centres located inside Nakivale. The agency further states that already 65 percent of the cost is funded and ‘WFP Uganda is actively engaging with donors to raise new funds for the rest of 2015’.

The refugees are arriving through the Uganda -Tanzania border or through Kisoro district and many of them are arriving in good health but in need of immediate food assistance.

‘An inter-agency assessment conducted by OPM and humanitarian partners including WFP on 28-29 May indicated a need for scaling up of staffing and assistance in the areas of registration and reception, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, education, livelihoods and protection. Therapeutic feeding was recommended for addressing cases of malnutrition among the new arrivals’ the release further states.

OPM and humanitarian agencies are developing budgets in relation to gaps identified during the assessment. Seven sectors have been created led by OPM, UNCHR, NGOs and UN agencies, with WFP heading the sector on food, livelihoods, non-food items and environment, the release states.