ACC/SCN Sets up a Refugee Nutrition Information System in Conjunction with International NGOs
by Humanitarian Practice Network March 1994

A system producing reports every two months on the status of refugees and internally displaced populations has been established by the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination/Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN) which is the focal point for harmonising policies on nutrition within the UN system.

The decision to set up the system, which currently focuses principally on Sub-Saharan Africa, was taken in February 1993, following a series of discussions with UN agencies, the ICRC and some of the larger international NGOs; and the preparation of a pilot report.

By collating information from a wide range of UN agencies, NGOs and other sources and presenting the information in a clear, summary format, it is hoped to increase the effectiveness of the response in those cases where the situation is particularly severe.

Information is provided to the ACC/SCN secretariat by a variety of UN agencies and NGOs.

The agencies contributing information to the most recent report (February 1994) included Action Internationale Contre la Faim, Amar Appeal, Amnesty International, Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), GOAL, Iraqi Civilian Aid, ICRC, MSF-Belgium, MSF-CIS (Mozambique), MSF-France, MSF-Holland, Oxfam-UK, SCF-UK, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP. Technical support is provided to the ACC/SCN Secretariat by Jeremy Shoham of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The system receives financial support from NORAD, USAID, UNHCR and WFP and in-kind support from UNICEF and SCF-UK.

The reports are compiled every two months, the first of which was produced in September 1993.

Thus far, reporting has concentrated on Sub-Saharan Africa where the total refugee/displaced population now stands at over 16 million of which 1.3 million are severely malnourished. The most recent report described the situation in 17 different areas of Africa. Information on the situation in southern Iraq has also been included in the first three issues.

Those wishing to receive the reports or discuss the possibility of their agency contributing nutritional and health information to the system should contact:

Refugee Nutrition Information System
ACC/SCN – c/o World Health Organisation
20 Avenue Apia
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Telephone: (41 22) 791 0456
Fax: (41 22) 798 8891