PESHAWAR, July 24: Shortage of funds has forced the World Food Programme, a United Nations body, to slash the size of food handouts for 1.1 million internally displaced persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Amjad Jamal, a spokesman for the WFP, told Dawn on Tuesday that quantity of the ‘food basket’ provided to IDPs had already been reduced, while the agency would have to trim down relief operation if it didn’t receive required funds for the current programme in Pakistan by October.
“Quantity of food ration for IDPs will be reduced further if the agency does not receive $70 million by October,” he said.
According to Mr Jamal, the WFP is currently caring for around 7.4 million destitute people in Pakistan, mostly in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
He said his organisation ran several programmes, including distribution of food rations among IDPs, livelihood and feeding schoolchildren, to enhance enrollment.
Currently, the WFP is distributing food rations among IDPs living in camps and with families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata on a monthly basis.
Jalozai Camp in Nowshera district has the largest concentration of IDPs as over 200,000 people, who escaped from conflict in Khyber Agency, have taken shelter there.
Also, IDPs are sheltered in Togh Sarai Camp in Hangu, New Durrani Camp in Kurram Agency, while the people displaced from South Waziristan are living with local families or have rented houses in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts.
These displaced persons, mostly women and children, are totally dependents on the WFP, Unicef, UNHCR and other donor agencies for food.
A food basket comprises 80kg wheat flour, eight kilogrammes pulses, four litres edible oil, one kilogramme salt, 4.5 kilogrammes high energy biscuits and 2.4 kilogrammes food supplements for children.
After facing shortage of funds, the WFP has reduced the quantity of the ready-to-use food for children, pulses from eight to four kilogrammes and biscuits from 4.5 kilogrammes to 2.5 kilogrammes, according to the spokesman.
“Certainly, the affected population particularly children will face food shortage if funds are not released,” he said.
Mr Jamal warned that the WFP would make further slash down the basket if member countries did not release funds by October and that shortage of funds could severely affect the WFP operations in Pakistan.
According to him, reduction in the size of food handouts for conflict victims could affect other WFP programmes, including school feeding and livelihood programmes in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Under the WFP ‘Back to School, Stay in School’ programme, which began in 2011, each schoolchild in remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata is given 75 grammes packet of high energy biscuit daily and 4.5 litres of edible oil after two months.
Teachers of these schoolchildren are also provided with edible oil to discourage absenteeism.