UN World Food Programme

Hunger's global hotspots: 16th March 2007

From the floods in Mozambique, to the high seas off the coast of Somalia, WFP is on the frontline of crises across the globe. Find out the latest from these hotspots with WFP's weekly operational priorities update.

Introduction

From the floods in Mozambique, to the high seas off the coast of Somalia, WFP is on the frontline of crises across the globe. Find out the latest from these hotspots with WFP's weekly operational priorities update.

Afghanistan

The security situation was volatile in the southern region during the reporting period, 25 security incidents including military operations, suicide bombings, attacks on police posts and other insurgency activities were reported.

NATO and Afghan forces have launched a large military operation against insurgents in the northern districts of Helmand province (Sangin, Kajaki, Musal Qala, Grishk and Nad Ali). Consequently, 4,800 families have been displaced. It is expected that the operation will cause a further displacement of civilians in the coming weeks.

In coordination with other UN agencies WFP continued its food aid assistance to IDPs in the southern provinces. Between 02 and 08 March WFP Kandahar Area Office distributed nearly 100 mt of mixed food commodities to 960 IDP families (5,760 individuals) in Lashkargah city of Helmand province.

Police investigation

On 4 March 07, A truck transporting 22 tons of WFP food to Hirat was looted by insurgents in Maiwand district of Kandahar province. A police investigation is currently underway in collaboration with local authorities. This is the fourth such incident since the beginning of the year.

Food for work proposals have come forward from drought affected provinces and communities in several difficult access areas.

The limited availability of technical support as well as the insecurity (intimidating both the affected communities as well as technicians) is delaying the start of project implementation.

Burundi

The disarmament process of an estimated 3,000 ex-combatants of the last rebel group in Burundi, Front National de Libération (FNL) is expected to start any time now.

WFP through partner German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) will support the initial phase of the process, by providing food at the assembly sites.

Floods and torrential rains have partly destroyed the late 2006/early 2007 harvests. As a result WFP assistance will significantly increase to include, apart from 500,000 people under core activities, an additional 1.5 million flood affected people under its emergency intervention.

Negative coping mechanisms

A number of worrying trends underline the seriousness of the situation, including negative coping mechanisms such as sale of assets, reduction of food intake, children abandoning school, theft of crops, increased violence and displacement.

These also include cross border movements to Tanzania, making the crisis potentially regional. Furthermore, admissions to therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres are increasing.

In response, WFP will increase distribution levels up to 10,000 mt per month in April, May and June – which is expected to be the peak of the crisis.

The Seeds Protection Ration campaign (SPR) with FAO started on 20 February and will continue until 15 March, reaching some 300,000 people with about 1,530 tons of food. So far some 110,000 people have received WFP SPR food rations amounting to 500 mt of food.

Chad

The security situation has deteriorated during the past week especially in the east of the country but also in the capital Ndjamena.

Following the recommendations of the emergency food security assessment (EFSA), which was completed in February, assistance is planned for 105,000 IDPs with monthly food rations of 1,200 kilocalories per day for 90 days (Mar-Jun).

Lean season

After that assistance will be provided during the lean season (Jul-Sep) with seed protection programmes for up to 110,000 IDPs.

WFP has made 90 days food rations available to ICRC to provide immediate assistance to about 21,000 IDPs in Ade, Kerfi, Marena and Tiero. Distributions are starting this month.

March general food distributions for the Sudanese and CAR refugees in Chad are currently ongoing.

Congo D.R.

Increasing insecurity in North Kivu province has been limiting WFP food operations in the area.

Infrastructure is extremely poor. Support for essential infrastructure rebuilding is needed to make a substantial impact on cost reduction of food delivery.

Logistic constraints

At present, logistic constraints result in very high transportation costs.

WFP is finalising an extensive market survey that will provide a better knowledge of local purchase opportunities. WFP is soon to begin an extensive vulnerability assessment study in 216 villages for a better understanding of vulnerabilities.

DPRK

WFP held its 2nd Quarterly meeting with NCC and the relevant line ministries to discuss the protracted relief programme (PRRO) implementation over the last quarter and plan for the next 3 months.

Participants felt that the meeting was very successful with all ministries indicating a desire to work more closely with WFP.

As yet there is no clear decision as to when UNDP, which has suspended its operations, will close the office in Pyongyang. WFP has agreed, if necessary, to carry out some caretaker functions on UNDP’s behalf during their absence, including the maintenance of equipment, documents and assets.

Fertiliser aid

Following the inter-Korean the DPRK delivered a message to RO Korea's Red Cross, formally requesting some 272,000 mt of fertiliser aid. It remains unclear whether Seoul will give the total requested, as the ROK has to "go through a series" of processes for the aid shipment although it has been indicated that the shipments would begin at the end of March, early April.

Further to last month’s breakthrough at the Six Party Talks, two of the five working groups met with significantly differing outcomes.

Talks in New York (US-DPRK WG) were described as positive with progress made particularly in the area of the financial transactions.

However in Hanoi (JAPAN-DPRK WG) the meetings broke down over the issues of war reparations and the abductees. The Six party Talks are scheduled to resume on 19 March.

Frank discussions

A high-level European troika delegation travelled to DPRK on 6-8 March. The meetings described as “frank” and “direct” included discussions on de-nuclearisation, economic development and human rights.

An outbreak of foot and mouth has been reported at a farm outside Pyongyang. FAO has indicated that the outbreak has been contained and that the infected animals have been slaughtered to prevent further infections.

DPRK’s Agriculture Ministry has indicated that 44,000 animals within 60 km radius will now be vaccinated.

IAEA inspectors

A high-level Australian delegation (AusAID and Foreign Affairs Department) will visit DPRK form 11-15 March. WFP will join a one-day field visit.

UN IAEA Director General is scheduled to visit DPRK on 13-14 March. It is anticipated that around 15 IAEA inspectors will be deployed to DPRK following his visit.

Critical shortages of wheat, pulses and dried skim milk (DSM) are already affecting the operation, including a temporary removal of DSM from some fortified foods that provide nutritional sustenance to infants in orphanages and kindergartens.

Ethiopia

Relief distributions remain suspended in Ethiopia pending the initiation of the Government’s new relief response strategy to provide food following rapid assessment on a case-by-case basis.

WFP is participating in a Government methodology taskforce, with support from ODK and ODAN, to push forward the process of implementing assessments to trigger relief distributions, particularly in pastoral areas.

Contingency plans

WFP and donors to the government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) are working to consider contingency plans for Oromiya region where the PSNP is expected to expand to meet a large amount of relief needs. The ability of the PSNP to respond to these needs is in question.

Continued insecurity due to clan conflict in the Fik zone of Somali region is affecting WFP’s ability to monitor its programmes and assess the food security situation in this area.

Kenya

The Kenya Food Security Steering Group continued to consolidate the findings of the food security assessment conducted in February.

The report with final results and recommendations, is expected next week, and will determine the level of WFP’s intervention going forward.

Asylum seekers

Despite the continued closure of the Kenya-Somali border by the Government of Kenya since early January, Somali refugees have been crossing the border spontaneously.

Nearly 2,050 asylum seekers from Somali arrived in Dadaab camp in the last two months.

On 16 February, teachers in Dadaab's primary schools went on strike over pay. As a result, WFP's school feeding programme has been temporarily halted since then, until the strike is called off and the teachers go back to class.

Madagascar

After the passage of tropical cyclones/storms Bondo (December 2006), Clovis (January 2007), Favio (February 2007) and Gamede, which resulted in heavy rainfall and floods in many regions of the country, the weather is slowly returning to normal.

Campsites that were open to accommodate the displaced population are now diminishing.

On March 7, WFP and its cooperating partner Agro Action Allemande started a targeted 10-day distribution of 360 mt of food to 110,000 beneficiaries in the district of Nosy Varika (South East) to prevent a deterioration of the nutritional situation.

Strategy

In the Farafangana district, WFP and CARITAS are starting a monthly distribution of 35 tons of food to 4,375 beneficiaries.

Under the leadership of the National Nutrition Office and in collaboration with UNICEF, WFP is involved in the elaboration of a strategy to diminish the number of children in the Therapeutic Feeding Centers (CRENI) in the South East.

In the South, around 200,000 people in the 32 communes previously declared as food insecure, are receiving WFP food aid.

Assistance

The 115 tonnes of WFP’s pre-positioned food in Mahajanga (North West) will allow the Malagasy Red Cross to start targeted distributions in the district of Mampikony.

Approximately 2,350 people in six out of the 10 affected communes will receive assistance. The four remaining communes will be the subject of a discussion among the BNGRC, WFP and the Malagasy Red Cross.

Mozambique

According to the Government, the floods, cyclone and drought that have plagued Mozambique have destroyed 277,000 hectares of crops and affected nearly 1.1 million people.

The Government has divided the response into three phases: (1) emergency response phase: December 2006-April 2007; (2) transition recovery phase: May-July 2007 (with UN Humanitarian Partners appeal to be issued through OCHA in Geneva); and, (3) recovery phase: August-November 2007.

Cyclone

WFP has been requested to support the Government with food assistance for families affected by the floods and cyclone Favio until July 2007, when the second harvest should be available.

WFP has distributed over 140 tons of food to 37,000 people in the cyclone affected areas of Inhambane and Sofala provinces.

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners have provided over 700 tons of food to around 120,000 people in flood accommodation centres in the provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia.

Shortfalls

WFP has drastically increased its logistics capacity with extra trucks as well as helicopters and boats from South Africa.

Food shortfalls prompted a reduction of regular HIV/AIDS relief operation and food-for-assets activities for the first quarter, resulting in a reduction of 10,000 beneficiaries and 34 field level agreements with community-based partners.

Somalia

Insecurity continues to rise in the Somali capital Mogadishu. At least 14 people were reportedly killed and about 20 injured when insurgents attacked the first contingent of AU forces in Mogadishu on 7 March.

A military plane carrying AU peacekeepers caught fire at Mogadishu’s international airport on 9 March; no casualties were reported.

Mortar attack at Mogadishu seaport was also reported. Illegal roadblocks set up by armed militiamen to extort money from commuters have increased.

Hijack

“MV Rozen”, used by WFP to deliver 1,800 tons of food aid in Somalia, was hijacked while returning empty to Mombasa on 25 February, is not released. The 12 crew members continue to be held captive.

The incident has constrained WFP’s ability to contract commercial ships to deliver food aid to Somalia.

Despite a call to bid for shipping contracts a week ago, there has been no expression of interest.

WFP has 2,423 tons of food aid awaiting shipment at the port in Tanzania.

Bids

Competitive bids are usually received within days. Pre-positioning of food ahead of the upcoming rainy season is threatened.

On 9 March, the UN suspended the UN Common Air Services (UNCAS) and UN Humanitarian Air Services flights into Baidoa following the recent demand of landing and departure fees of US$50 per passenger - mainly humanitarian workers.

Only the flight scheduled to take a UN team to discuss the issue with the authorities was authorised to land in Baidoa on 12 March.

Assessment

An inter-agency assessment to determine the number and situation of IDPs fleeing Mogadishu was undertaken last week. Findings indicate that about 1000 IDP households in Afogoi (25 km from Mogadishu) are in desperate need for food aid and other humanitarian supplies.

WFP distributed through Horn relief (cooperating partner) a total of 415 tons of relief food to 21,000 beneficiaries in Badhadhe, one of the areas that could not be accessed by the UN for over a year because of insecurity.

WFP in February distributed a total of 4,600 tons of food aid commodities to 244,000 target beneficiaries across Somalia.

Sri Lanka

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to arrive in the Government-controlled areas near Batticaloa.

As of 28 February there were 79,181 located at 50 sites receiving assistance, including food from WFP.

Over the past week, it is estimated that an additional 20,000 people moved into the area. WFP and other humanitarian partners are deeply concerned by this trend.

Humanitarian access

Security concerns and restricted humanitarian access, particularly in LTTE-controlled areas, continue to hamper WFP emergency operations.

It should be noted that on 27 February, a joint Government/Donor/UN humanitarian mission's helicopter and participants were fired upon by the LTTE upon landing in Batticaloa to review the situation of the displaced and prospects for their safe return to areas of origin.

Meanwhile, IDPs in many of these camps report insecurity and lack of law and order, further exacerbating their plight.

Rice pipeline

A partnership with ICRC evolved whereby they provided rice as part of the IDP food ration in Batticaloa and Trincomalee during a recent break in the WFP rice pipeline.

Under a collaboration agreement with the Italian Government, WFP was recently joined by representatives from the Italian Embassy in Sri Lanka and local Government education authorities at the inauguration of school kitchens constructed by two Italian NGOs in the Ampara District of the East.

ASIA Onlus built 13 and Ricerca e Cooperazione constructed 7 that have been completed and are now in use in support of WFP's mid-morning meal programme.

Sudan

In February, WFP reached approximately 2.4 million beneficiaries across Sudan, of which over 2 million were assisted in Darfur alone.

Insecurity, mainly resulting from fighting between Government factions and inter-tribal clashes, remained high in the troubled Darfurs where there has been a notable increase of vehicle hijacking across the region, mainly affecting relief agencies and the African Union.

WFP and partners were unable to reach 78,000 beneficiaries due to insecurity in locations of West and South Darfur.

Attack

Among these were 14,500 people in Muharjeriya and Labado in South Darfur where WFP's cooperating partner Solidarités have suspended their activities including food distributions after an attack on two of their vehicles in February.

Since the joint UN/Government organised return process started in early February, WFP has provided food to more than 3,000 individuals (800 households) who left Khartoum for Southern Kordofan (10 convoys of 1,221 individuals) and Unity State (2 convoys of 1,837 individuals).

WFP and cooperating partners provide transit rations for the journey and additional three-month rations upon arrival to support resettlement. In 2007, WFP plans to assist more than 700,000 returnees.

WFP is setting up 56 new rubhalls in southern Sudan to accommodate prepositioning of some 37,000 mt of food prior to the rainy season. This will expand the storage capacity by some 22,000 mt in addition to the current 53,000 mt capacity.