Algeria has hosted refugees from throughout Western Sahara since 1975 in what has become one of the world’s most protracted refugee crises. These Sahrawi refugees are located in five camps near the town of Tindouf in Western Algeria. The harsh and isolated desert environment limits opportunities for self-reliance and, as a result, the refugees depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival. Assessments have shown that chronic malnutrition is about 25 percent while global acute malnutrition among children aged 5 or less is under eight percent.
Despite continued negotiations, there is little sign of a durable solution to the political stalemate and camps have been the only alternative for Sahrawi refugees. The status quo has fuelled frustration and disillusionment, especially among the young, which could lead to increased insecurity and tensions in the sub-region.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has supported the most vulnerable refugees since 1986 with basic food and nutrition needs at the request of the Government of Algeria. In the absence of a political solution, WFP must continue to provide humanitarian food assistance as this is a key factor to peace and stability in the camps. WFP activities aim to improve the food consumption of the most vulnerable refugees, reduce acute malnutrition and anaemia and support the enrolment and retention of refugee children in school.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Algeria
WFP combines prevention and treatment approaches to address anaemia, stunting and malnutrition among children aged under 5, and pregnant and nursing women, targeting some 22,500 people under its Mother and Child Health programme through 29 nutrition centers. WFP assistance includes the provision of oil, sugar and special fortified foods.
WFP aims to meet the basic food and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable refugees by providing 90,000 general food baskets plus 35,000 supplementary baskets per month. The composition of the baskets can vary, depending on funding, but they generally include cereals, pulses, sugar, vegetable oil and blended food for an overall caloric value of about 2,166 calories per person per day.
WFP provides mid-morning snacks – in the form of milk or dates and fortified biscuits – to 32,500 children in 40 primary schools. WFP also rehabilitates and constructs school kitchens and stores.