Nearly six years into the Rohingya refugee crisis, for the first time WFP is forced to cut back its lifesaving assistance for all Rohingya living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Starting 1 March, WFP will have to reduce its General Food Assistance voucher value from US$12 to US$10 per person per month, due to a US$125 million funding shortfall.

“This is a devastating blow to the Rohingya and an equally devastating blow to the humanitarian community,” said Domenico Scalpelli, WFP Country Director in Bangladesh. “With other critical services already dwindling, the repercussions of the ration cut – even if just two dollars – will be dire.”

Unlike other vulnerable groups, the Rohingya have limited employment opportunities in the camps, relying almost entirely on humanitarian assistance to meet their food and other essential needs.

With the support of donors and partners, WFP has been providing food, nutrition and other critical assistance to Rohingya men, women and children since their exodus from Myanmar in 2017.

Today all Rohingya – nearly 1 million of them – receive food assistance via vouchers currently valued at US$12 per person per month. Families can choose from over 40 dry and fresh food items at WFP outlets throughout the camps.

Despite concerted humanitarian efforts, 45 percent of Rohingya families are not eating a sufficient diet and malnutrition has been widespread in the camps. The Global Acute Malnutrition rate for children stands at 12 percent – just below the 15 percent WHO ‘Emergency’ threshold but still categorized as ‘Serious’. Some 40 percent of children have stunted growth and 40 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women are anaemic – all this is before the ration cut.

“With each ration cut, malnutrition will certainly rise. With each ration cut, families will increasingly resort to dangerous strategies to cope. Sadly, women, adolescent girls and children will be the worst affected. We must do everything possible to keep the vital humanitarian assistance they depend on intact,” said Scalpelli.

Without an immediate funding boost, further ration cuts to the blanket food assistance programme are also imminent into the year. 

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Dhaka, WFP press release, Feb. 17, 2023