Digitized Food Cards introduced in refugee camps

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: 32,000 Rohingya refugees are now entitled to have the facility as the World Food Program (WFP) in cooperation with the government introduced digitized Food Cards at Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps since September 11, according to WFP officials.

“The move aims at ensuring better food distribution among the refugees.”

They only can buy items from the registered food shops inside the camps for a certain amount of money. The costs are borne by the WFP. There are six food shops in the two refugee camps, the WFP officials added.

Under the new system, the refugees will get eight more items— potato, semolina, green leaf, dried fish, onion, garlic, chili and turmeric. Earlier, each Rohingya family maintained a log to collect— rice, pulses, sugar, salt and oil.

Each family will be allocated a Food Card and each member of the family will have over Bangladesh Taka 700 loaded on the card for a month.

Whenever a cardholder will produce the Food Card at a shop, the staff there will check the card with a machine for the balance amount in it.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to buy most of the essentials from the shop inside our camp. Previously we could buy only five items from there, but now we can have 13 items,” said Sayeed, a government-registered Rohingya refugee.”

Once the shopping is complete, the staff will adjust the amount from the card balance, said Jessica Staskieqicz, program coordinator of WFP.

“I think we’ll be able to ensure the food security and nutrition of the refugees in a much better way with the new system which gives them choice and dignity,” said Ms Christa Rader, country representative of WFP in Bangladesh.

To prevent misuse of Food Cards, fingerprints of cardholders will be stored in a database and it will be verified during every purchase of commodities, she added.

Mesbah- ul- Alam, secretary to the disaster management and relief ministry said that he hoped the new system will help ensure nutrition of the refugees while he was speaking at the card launching program.

Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) and Cox’s Bazar district administration were present while distribution of Food Cards.
There are about 500,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees inside Bangladesh, according to estimates by the UNHCR. They are refugees fleeing sectarian conflict of Rakhine ( Arakan) state.

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