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15 April 2024

‘1 Billion Meals’ initiative distributes 5.4 million meals in refugee camps in Bangladesh


The “1 Billion Meals” initiative, the region's largest food donation drive to support the underprivileged and undernourished in 50 countries across four continents, today announced the completion of the distribution of 5.4 million meals in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, in collaboration with the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP).

Thanks to the partnership between Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), organiser of the 1 Billion Meals initiative, and WFP with its internationally vast reach in refugee camps, food support has been provided directly to beneficiaries in the form of instantly redeemable smart vouchers that allow beneficiaries to purchase the food they need from WFP-certified shops and groceries.

A report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) found that close to 1 million Rohingya refugees, 490,000 of whom are children, in the camps by Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, which has been dubbed as the largest area to accommodate refugees.

Sarah Al Nuaimi, Director of MBRGI, said, “For the 1 Billion Meals initiative to reach beneficiaries in one of the largest refugee camps in the world is a logistical challenge by all means. However, MBRGI, in partnership with UN’s WFP, succeeded in overcoming this challenge and distributing the equivalent of 5.4 million meals to individuals and families in the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh.”

Al Nuaimi highlighted that adopting instantly redeemable smart vouchers that provide food aid to beneficiaries is part of MBRGI’s keenness to deliver support directly to those who need it, to preserve their dignity and continue innovative and impactful humanitarian work.

Al Nuaimi added, “Successfully reaching vulnerable groups, including refugees and displaced people, translates MBRGI’s and the wider UAE’s values by extending a helping hand and providing assistance to everyone around the globe, without discrimination or exception.”

Global Contribution in Facing Humanitarian Challenges

For his part, Mageed Yahia, WFP Representative to the GCC Region, said, “Hunger is on the rise worldwide, and threatening more than 800 million people. In Bangladesh, the 2022 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis appealed for more than US$881 million to support approximately 1.4 million people, including Rohingya refugees and most affected host communities. Hence, the distribution operations of the 1 Billion Meals initiative, in collaboration with WFP, arrived at an ideal time, offering food support to the underprivileged.”

Yahia pointed out that the initiative's distribution of the equivalent of 5.4 million meals in Bangladesh is a valuable addition to the existing partnership between WFP and MBRGI. He highlighted the importance of continuing this bilateral relationship to broaden the reach of humanitarian work and respond to the growing needs of underprivileged communities.

The assistance provided by the 1 Billion Meals reached 20,000 people in Cox’s Bazar camps, enabling them to obtain basic food items from local suppliers through an identification code they receive on their mobile phones, ensuring that support reaches them in a timely manner.

The 1 Billion Meals initiative provides food support to beneficiaries throughout 50 countries across the globe, in coordination with partners such as United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Food Banking Regional Network (FBRN), the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment (MBRCH), the UAE Food Bank, as well as local charity, humanitarian and social work institutions in beneficiary countries.

Organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, the 1 Billion Meals initiative is under the Humanitarian Aid and Relief pillar, which is one of the five pillars that MBRGI operates its initiatives and programmes. The 1 Billion Meals initiative builds on earlier efforts and successes to provide a food security net to those in need across 50 countries in four continents.