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Refugees in Kenya blessed by the Church’s donation to the World Food Programme

Families fleeing war and drought in Somalia receive nutrient-rich foods at refugee camps in Dadaab

After The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave $32 million to the United Nations World Food Programme in September — the Church’s largest one-time humanitarian donation to date — the WFP immediately went to work helping more people in need. 

The donation and contributions from other partners have allowed the WFP to increase food rations by 80% in the fourth quarter of the year, including at three refugee camps in Dadaab in eastern Kenya.

The temporary settlements house 320,000 refugees and asylum seekers, more than twice as many as the camps were built to hold. They are run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in partnership with organizations such as the WFP and the Kenya Red Cross.

Food is distributed at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A report on ChurchofJesusChrist.org highlighted some of the people at Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, who fled drought and war in Somalia, seeking food, shelter and dignity.

Habiv Asat walked 15 days with her children in a donkey cart to get to the camp. “It was important for me to come because I needed food for my children,” she said. “We are pastoralists. Because of the drought [in Somalia], our animals died.”

Habiba Abdalahi went to the camp in search of “a place that is stable, that is peace for me and my grandchildren and also my children.” The family has now lived there for 14 years.

Hassan Ali Isa said she wanted stability as well. “What I would want for my family would be that we would not have the refugee status in the future, that we would be the same as any other person, that we would have a better life than the one we currently are in.”

The donated dollars allow more refugees to receive bags of nutrient-rich grains and oil for cooking each month or receive electronic cash transfers to be used in local markets. Sarah Borchers, head of the WFP’s Dadaab office, said their reports show the Dadaab camps’ acute malnutrition rates range from 5% to more than 13%.

“When people come here and see the camps for the first time, there’s a bit of shock,” she said. “But then if you take the time to sit down and speak with some of the mothers, speak with some of the children, play with some of the children, you see that the circumstances might be different, but they are just like you and I.”

In the ChurchofJesusChrist.org report, Colin Buleti of WFP Kenya spoke about what the Church’s donation has meant.

“Every time you donate your dollar, please be assured that every dollar donated to us, World Food Programme, will reach the refugees out there, will reach the persons most vulnerable out there,” Buleti said. “It will put a smile on a child. And it will prevent hunger and malnutrition across the globe.”

A woman at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mohammed is a child who lives in the camp with eight other people in his family. His father has many health challenges and his mother is blind, and he’d like to be a doctor when he grows up — “because I would want to give back to my community and do something meaningful.”

“The food we receive helps us ... especially the oil we get from the food distribution centers really helps us to sustain our cooking in the family,” he said.

Borchers said the Church’s donation to the WFP is “invaluable” at a critical time.

“It enables us to go forward with confidence into 2023 — in particular reaching the new arrivals that we’re seeing every day at our camp,” she said. “And we wouldn’t be able to do it without partners like the Church.”

Food is distributed at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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