Contributing Author: Katherine Walla
While hunger transcends borders, severe food insecurity disproportionately impacts the 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including refugees and internally displaced people. For the largest refugee crises—including Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Venezuela, and Myanmar—food is a matter of life in many refugee communities. However, the U.N. Refugee Agency and World Food Program stress that food aid rations are dramatically shrinking, in some cases by up to 50 percent. Cuts in food aid have extreme effects on refugee communities, as they try to cope by skipping meals, staying home from work, or selling family assets to avoid hunger and malnutrition.
Reacting to the influx of starving refugees, internally displaced people, and other vulnerable migrants, many organizations are taking on the task of providing food. More than 900 organizations undertake programs on the ground to ensure refugees feel protected, secure, and safe. With short and long-term solutions to food shortages, lack of income, and struggling farms, many organizations have joined together to improve nutrition and empower communities to find their own solutions to hunger in refugee camps.
To acknowledge the work of diverse, global networks for World Refugee Day, Food Tank brings you 19 organizations dedicated to helping refugees achieve food security on the ground.
Action Africa Help International supports refugees and internally displaced people in South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Beyond delivering food aid, Action Africa Help International commits to “increase community capacity to improve food and income security through promotion of better farming and animal husbandry practices.” With initiatives to adapt to climate change and improve market access for farmers, the Kenyan organization supported 6,025 farmers worldwide and helped feed 3,506 people in 2017.
Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), a French organization, addresses problems in production, access, and income that cause hunger. With programs designed to help local market activity, micro-enterprise initiatives, and agricultural production, Action Contre La Faim responds to environmental and political disasters equipped to prevent hunger in both the short and long-term. The organization works with local populations to craft programs to help families regain food self-sufficiency. Every day, Action Contre La Faim distributes more than 83,000 meals to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps.
Afrique Secours et Assistance (Africa Relief and Assistance), an organization based in Cote d’Ivoire, provides necessary services and food aid to refugees from the Central African Republic. Each month, Afrique Secours et Assistance distributes financial assistance so that refugees can purchase the foods relevant to their needs. In 2016, almost 60 percent of their financial assistance provided food for refugees. Afrique Secours et Assistance also provides education and health services.
BRAC, an international organization founded in Bangladesh, seeks to empower people with programs in healthcare, agriculture, education, and more. BRAC currently mobilizes 1,300 staff members on the ground in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The organization has helped train and equip 620,000 farmers worldwide. In their care packages, BRAC sends clean and durable cookware to Rohingya refugees so that they can prepare healthy meals on a regular basis.
Compassiva (Compassionate) is a Brazilian organization that seeks to serve refugees adjusting to life in Brazil with essential services and long-term bonds. Their Levando Ajuda Ao Refugiado (Taking Help to Refugees) program assists Syrian refugees adapt to Brazilian society by providing food, healthcare, and opportunities for social integration.
Cooperazione Internazionale (International Cooperation) aims to end cycles of chronic food insecurity for refugees in 24 countries. By strengthening each communities’ own resilience, the Italian organization hopes to equip local populations with the tools necessary to sustainably and independently maintain their own nutrition: since 2016, Cooperazione Internazionale provided agricultural material and tools to women in 51 villages in Niger to bolster food security. Their recent projects in Central and East Africa have reached almost 2.2 million people.
Food for the Hungry started providing resources such as clean water and food to communities needing humanitarian aid in 1971. Working with local leaders, Food for the Hungry invites the refugees they serve to contribute sustainable solutions “to improve food and nutrition security and enhance resiliency to shocks and livelihoods among vulnerable households.” Currently, the American organization joins with the Integral Alliance and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development in Lebanon to provide food, shelter, and essential services to Syrian refugees.
Friends of Refugees, an Australian organization, responds to humanitarian crises and need for aid in local communities with many services to improve livelihoods. The organization unites numerous organizations like Foodbank Victoria, Sathya Sai International Organization of Australia & PNG, and more to deliver food to people seeking asylum and refugees at risk of poverty and malnutrition. Friends of Refugees prides itself on delivering food that is healthy and culturally appropriate.
Good Neighbors International, a Korean organization provides food support to East and West African refugees in their programs to “share agricultural techniques, implement water facility development projects and more to help these communities overcome their chronic food shortage problem.” In emergencies and conflicts, Good Neighbors International implements long-term plans to help refugees transition from aid recipients to autonomous agents of their own economic progress. Their refugee support projects in Tanzania and Chad reached almost 100,000 people in 2016. In Tanzania, Good Neighbors International designed a common market for refugees and host communities to improve the variety of foods and enhance each refugee’s income earning ability.
Help Syria’s Kids, a New York based organization, helps refugees in a Ketermaya, Lebanon refugee camp to rebuild their lives and potential. According to the organization “food is not plentiful or balanced, making the coping skills of the children and families living in a refugee camp even more challenging.” Their projects aim to consistently provide food, basic services, and education to over 350 people, including 140 children. Help Syria’s Kids focuses on meeting the needs of 58 Syrian refugee families with multiple deliveries of food packages, which include dry and canned goods, bread and dairy products, meat, fresh produce and other culturally relevant foods.
11. Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief Worldwide is an international organization based in the United Kingdom that aims to empower local communities to overcome poverty with holistic programs. The organization’s two seasonal projects, celebrating Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, assemble food parcels for communities in 35 countries experiencing conflict and famine. In 2016, Islamic Relief Worldwide fed over 949,000 people in Syria and 316,000 people in Yemen.
12. Khalsa Aid
For 19 years, United Kingdom-based Khalsa Aid lead project Langar Aid, an initiative that supplies food to refugees fleeing natural disasters, wars, and conflicts. In May 2018, the organization initiated an emergency relief effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo supplying four refugee camps with emergency food rations. Khalsa Aid also provided 5,000 Syrian refugee families in Lebanon with fresh food daily for Ramadan.
La 72, Hogar-Refugio para Personas Migrantes (The 72, Home-Shelter for Migrants) welcomes Latin American refugees traveling through Tenosique, Tabasco—a town through which Salvadoran, Colombian, and Honduran vulnerable migrants and refugees often travel for two or more days without food. The Mexican organization offers meals all day, provides shelter, and offers necessary services to help migrants and refugees cope with their experiences.
Located in India and Sri Lanka, the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation seeks to facilitate transitions for Sri Lankan refugees returning after the civil war. Acknowledging that refugees often return to overgrown fields and poor access to income, the organization “provides necessary inputs such as livestock (cattle, goats and poultry), paddy seeds, cashew plants, water pumps, delivery pipes, fencing materials, sprayers, fishing nets and gear, etc. to enable newly settled families to begin farming again.” In 2016, Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation repaired an irrigation system that enabled 95 families to resume their normal agriculture activities and grow food for themselves.
Questscope, based in Jordan, provides emergency relief to Syria, coordinating with the Syrian Society for Social Development. Since 2009, their network of 3,000 staff and volunteers supplied food to 100 communities of internally displaced people and refugees in Syria. Questscope also reaches over 500,000 people in refugee camps such as those in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.
Founded in 2011 by Syrian-American professionals, Sunrise-USA provides humanitarian assistance to Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries. Entering heavy conflict regions, Sunrise-USA joins with volunteers on the ground to rapidly reach cities nearing starvation. Their “Feed Them” campaign reached over 20,000 families in Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama, and Damascus.
Syrian Arab Red Crescent, part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement network, coordinates food delivery on the ground. Cooperating with aid organizations such as the World Food Program and the UN Refugee Agency, Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributes emergency relief aid to local families. In April 2018, the organization’s 12,000 volunteers delivered 103 trucks of humanitarian relief items and food parcels to six Syrian towns.
The Syrian Society for Social Development reaches internally displaced people with education and empowerment services. In order to support vulnerable children and their learning, the Syrian Society for Social Development joins with partner organizations such as Questscope to supply food, counseling, protection, and free education.
19. Terre Des Hommes
Terre Des Hommes (Land of Men), a Switzerland-based organization, envisions a world where all children enjoy their rights in situations of conflict and natural disasters. As part of its project in Syria, Terre Des Hommes joined with the Syrian Red Crescent Society to hand out essential food to internally displaced and vulnerable families. Terre Des Hommes expands emergency relief efforts for children to include individualized health care for children in Lebanon, Northern Iraq, and Jordan.