For refugees fleeing South Sudan, the trek to the Elegu Refugee Collection Center on Uganda's border ends with a small package of hope: High-energy biscuits from the U.N. World Food Programme.
These fortified biscuits contain all of the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary to stay healthy and strong. Each day, WFP and World Vision Uganda are distributing more than 1,000 HEBs at the Elegu center to hungry families in need.
“These biscuits are very nourishing and it’s hard for one to eat more than two packets at once, however hungry they may be,” says Hope Lilly Abio, a WVU staffer on the ground.
Each 100-gram package of HEBs—made from wheat flour and packed with calcium, iron and vitamins B, C, D and E—provides 450 kilocalories of nutrition. Just four packages add up to the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day.
WFP gives HEBs to families fleeing violence and natural disaster all over the world and also provides them as snacks in primary schools where children might otherwise have nothing to eat.
For many refugees, especially children, it’s a moment of joy and relief when they receive the biscuits.
37-year-old Betty Unzia fled to Uganda with 10 children on foot. Five of the children are her own, and the other five belong to her sister, who recently died of HIV.
“We had to walk for three days from lower South Sudan to get to Uganda, feeding on roasted maize alone. Our house was burned, and we did not feel safe any more. The children were sick and eventually got tired of the maize, but I had nothing else to give them,” says Betty.
After going through the registration process, Betty and her children received their biscuits, 44 in total. The children beamed with joy as they tore open the packages.
Each day, the center welcomes anywhere from 45 to 200 refugee. As of November, Uganda alone hosts more than 170,000 refugees from South Sudan, many of whom are women and children.
This blog was repurposed from Moses Mukitale at World Vision.