UNHCR – On World Food Day, UN calls for strengthened and inclusive local food systems for displaced and host communities

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Refugee farmers and the host community sort maize in Makpandu refugee camp in South Sudan, January 2021. © UNHCR / Andreea Campeanu

Geneva – Increased investments in local food systems are essential to ensure sustainable food security and nutrition for forcibly displaced people and host communities, three UN agencies said ahead of World Food Day on October 16 .

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) warn that the most vulnerable, especially refugees, are hardest hit by food insecurity, which continues to be driven globally by conflict, displacement, economic shocks, climate crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Conflict and climatic stresses destroy lives, crops and livelihoods, and undermine people’s ability to feed themselves,” says Annalisa Conte, Director of WFP in Geneva. “Tragically, the climate crisis is expected to be a catalyst for further conflicts over competition for resources. What we are seeing now is just the beginning.

More than 11 million refugees are currently receiving humanitarian assistance to meet their food and nutritional needs. However, amid global funding gaps, assistance is insufficient in many places, fueling the risks of malnutrition and protection.

“The food and nutrition security of forcibly displaced populations, especially refugees, is an urgent concern,” said Sajjad Malik, director of UNHCR’s Resilience and Solutions Division. “We need to collectively ensure that humanitarian needs are met while helping local government build healthy and inclusive food systems. “

During a roundtable organized to celebrate World Food Day, the three agencies highlighted how the inclusion of forcibly displaced people in local food systems can contribute to greater food security and socio-economic prosperity. economic communities.

“In contexts where the impacts of conflict and forced displacement are strongly felt, it is critically important that efforts to strengthen local food systems include the most vulnerable, including refugees, internally displaced people. and returnees, ”said HE Felix Bauman, Deputy Permanent Representative. , Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

“The United States remains committed to building the capacity and resilience of all participants in food and agricultural systems and supply chains, particularly in reaching out to vulnerable and underserved communities,” said Ben Moeling, responsible Acting Affairs, US Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.

The event highlighted ongoing efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, South Sudan and Uganda. Speaking via a video from a refugee camp in western South Sudan, Tubi Anibati Felicitee, a refugee from DRC, explained how she grows food crops for consumption and sale as part of a joint initiative implemented by WFP, FAO, UNHCR, a private sector company, NGOs and the Government of South Sudan. As part of these collaborative efforts, refugees such as Felicitee are receiving support to increase production, reduce food waste and access viable markets.

“Resilient, efficient and sustainable food systems are only truly possible in situations of forced displacement, when populations, especially women, girls and young people, are actively engaged,” said Rein Paulsen, director of the Office of the United Nations. emergencies and resilience of FAO. “When we create inclusive food systems, together we can open the door to sustainable solutions where everyone wins. We need collective action now to step up these efforts. “

As part of this year’s World Food Day celebrations, the UN is supporting the distribution of 300 lunch boxes to vulnerable people in Geneva, including refugees. The lunch boxes are prepared by CuisineLab, a social enterprise run by refugee chefs from the city, and distributed by Mater Fondazione.

In addition, FAO is organizing a series of activities on October 15 and 16 in Geneva, including a World Food Day exhibition at the Cornavin station in Geneva, organized in partnership with the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture. (OFAG), Fondation Partage, Food Bank of Geneva and City of Geneva. The symbol of Geneva, the Jet d’eau, on the shores of Lake Geneva will be illuminated in blue on the evening of Saturday October 16 to mark this day.

World Food Day marks the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which was first established on October 16, 1945 in Quebec City, Canada. The day has been celebrated by millions of people in almost every country in the world since its inception in 1979.

The United Nations World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, creating prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, protects people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We work in more than 130 countries, protecting millions of people by providing them with life-saving assistance, protecting basic human rights and helping them build a better future.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized United Nations agency leading international efforts to end hunger. FAO’s goal is to achieve food security for all and to ensure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives. With more than 194 Member States, FAO works in more than 130 countries around the world.

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