From my conversation with UNHCR’s Nutritionist for Chad over on 850Calories.com:
I ask Wilkinson point blank if 850 calories a day is even enough to keep these people alive.
“Won’t they effectively, starve to death on these rations?”
There’s a deep sigh and then a long pause at the other end of the line. She’s measuring her answer carefully.
“You would expect people to continue to lose weight,” she says, uncomfortably.
I push her. “Really, though, 850 calories, it’s just not enough is it?”
“It isn’t just that. As important is the micronutrient profile: even as an adult you need them to sustain your immune system.”
Without the right micronutrients, she explains, refugees are exposed to illnesses that a better fed person would fight off quite easily.
“But yes, [the current ration level] is very, very low. For the children, in terms of calories, it’s probably ok, but for an adult, for a working adult…it’s an extreme value in terms of caloric intake.”