The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace Office (FFP), in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), has pumped in over US $600,000 to support refuges in Luapula Province.

In a statement issued by newly-appointed US Embassy public affairs officer Sean McIntosh, the funds are expected to procure 800 metric tonnes of food, enough to feed about 15,000 refugees for three months.

“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace Office (FFP), in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), has committed over US $600,000 to support refugee food needs in Zambia’s Luapula Province. With funding provided by the American people, WFP Zambia will procure 800 metric tons of food, enough to feed roughly 15,000 refugees for three months. Most of the donation will consist of locally-purchased cereals, beans, and peas. The procurement will come from smallholder farmers and local aggregators to help benefit local wholesalers and stimulate the economy, while also being cost-effective for reaching nearby refugee settlements,” read the statement.

USAID director Patrick Diskin stated that USAID was looking forward to continue its partnership with the WFP to address the crisis.

“We look forward to USAID’s ongoing partnership with the World Food Programme as we join Zambia in caring for regional refugees during this crisis. Through Food for Peace, the United States is helping meet the food needs of refugees in Zambia and around the world,” Diskin stated.

According to the statement, the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to a significant influx of refugees into Zambia.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Zambian government’s Office of the Commissioner for Refugees estimate that 15,000 people have crossed into Luapula Province in Northern Zambia since August, 2017, 80 per cent of whom are women and children.

WFP Zambia country director Jennifer Bitonde acknowledged that the support from the US government in promoting food security for the Congolese refugees in Zambia’s Nchelenge District.

“This contribution is an important signal that the refugees are not being forgotten, and a recognition of WFP’s efforts to respond to their plight,” stated Bitonde.

Some refugees travelled for up to three months to get to Zambia, and have arrived in poor condition, with many having been victims of violence.

The U.S.-supported food relief will directly assist the refugees to meet their food needs, while housed at Zambia’s Mantapala Refugee Settlement, according to the statement.

USAID’s Office of Food for Peace partners with other entities to reduce hunger and malnutrition, and to ensure that all individuals have adequate, safe and nutritious food during difficult periods of transition.