File photo shows sacks of maize donated by China are displayed at a warehouse of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
NAIROBI, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday welcomed China's five-million-U.S. dollar contribution to support 420,000 refugees living in camps in northern Kenya.
WFP's Country Director and Representative for Kenya Annalisa Conte said the funds from China and other countries will allow the UN food agency to resume full food rations to refugees from April to July.
"It is important that our donors continue to support this much-needed assistance for the refugees, especially when they are also vulnerable to the effects of the severe drought affecting the country," Conte said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
She lauded the critical contribution from China, saying WFP has struggled to provide adequate food to refugees living in camps in food-insecure northern Kenya due to insufficient funds.
WFP was in December 2016 forced to make new cuts by 50 percent in food rations for refugees in Kenya amid a severe funding shortage as the UN agency rapidly ran out of resources to feed mainly Somali and South Sudan refugees in the two camps.
However, WFP said in April that new contributions from Canada which provided 2.2 million dollars, China (5 million dollars), Germany (2.7 million dollars as part of a multi-year contribution), Japan (2.2 million dollars), Sweden (1 million dollars), and Britain 5.1 million dollars as part of a multi-year contribution) enabled it to resume full rations.
According to Kenyan laws, refugees cannot work outside the refugee camps and with limited sources of income, they are heavily dependent on WFP for food.
Refugees collect a general food ration from WFP of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, and a nutrient-enriched flour made from soya and maize every month.
The Chinese contribution has enabled WFP to buy 9,000 metric tonnes of cereals, the main staple in the food basket.
Chinese Ambassador in Kenya Liu Xianfa said Beijing has responded quickly to the appeals of the international community for support to all those affected by drought in Kenya and other African countries.
"We have provided relief materials or cash aid as needed," Liu said, adding that China has within its capacity rendered support to the assistance programs initiated by multilateral development organizations, and has exchanged experience in an increasingly open-minded manner.