UN World Food Programme

Hunger's global hotspots: 18th May 2007

From Afghanistan to Sudan, the weekly "Global hotspots" show you where WFP's challenges lie.

From Afghanistan to Sudan, the weekly "Global hotspots" show you where WFP's challenges lie.

Afghanistan

WFP is very concerned about the deterioration in security in the western province of Farah.

On 15 May three commercial trucks carrying WFP food to Herat were attacked by gunmen in the Bakwa district of Farah province, the cargo looted and the drivers abducted.

The following day, a fourth truck was attacked and the food looted in the same area. The total food lost amounts to 150 mt. The abducted drivers and trucks were released afterwards.

Taliban deaths

Military operations in the southern province of Helmand during which a key Taliban commander was killed together with several of his fighters, continue to hamper food deliveries in this area where WFP has a number of activities.

UN road missions to most districts of the southern provinces remain suspended due to insecurity.

Flash floods continue to claim lives and devastate infrastructure including houses, roads and agricultural land in the northern province of Badakhshan.

Heavy rain during the night of 15 May reportedly destroyed many houses, shops and roads in several districts of Badakhshan, including Bahrak, Jurm, Yftal Payan, Shohada and Warjuk.

Reports from the assessment teams indicate that 20 people died, 200 houses washed away and about 20 acres of agricultural land were destroyed.

Expulsion

WFP is preparing to deliver food to those affected through the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS).

Afghans expelled from Iran continue to flow into the western province of Farah.

On average 60 families per day have arrived. WFP has also provided food to some 260 families in Farah city. An additional 800 expelled families have been identified in Jowain district of Farah.

Chad

The security situation in eastern Chad is tense and of concern. Inter-ethnic fighting has been reported in the area of Guereda. The SMT (Security Management Team) in Abeche has recommended reducing staffing presence in the field.

A total of 30,000 metric tonnes (mt) need to be pre-positioned in the East to cover refugee and IDP requirements for the 5 month period of the rainy season (July-November).

Some 6,754 mt of cereals have been dispatched from the logistics hub in Khufra to Abeche. The road from Libya to the northern camps is considered insecure. Libyan transporters are reluctant to go on these roads.

However, following discussions with the transporters, WFP expects that they will go directly to the northern Camps. Dispatch of 2,818 mt of regional purchases from Cameroon is delayed due to lack of bags.

Congo DR

An IDP crisis is looming in the eastern part of the country. The various localised conflicts, particularly in the eastern part of DRC, continue fuelling significant displacements of rural populations.

Currently, there is a likelihood of adding 360,000 IDPs in North and South Kivu. Peasant farmers accused of collaborating with militias or governmental troops, continue to be targeted by various opposing armed groups.

The cycle of violence increasingly constrains WFP food aid operations in the area.

Incidents of administrative and judicial harassment continue to be reported.

Harassment

Administrative harassment is due to under-payment of the majority of state officials and government soldiers, judicial harassment results from the unawareness by judicial authorities of the various international laws and agreements governing WFP’s relationships with the DRC government.

A pipeline break is anticipated in the middle of the year. Though the pipeline currently appears healthy, it is more likely to exhaust faster due to the increasing needs.

WFP anticipates that as early as July, some commodities such as cereals, pulses and oil may be required.

DPRK

Trains crossed the border between the Koreas on 17th May for the first time in 56 years, in what was hailed by both countries as a key step toward reconciliation on the divided Peninsula.

It is doubted that this event will accelerate the Republic of Korea's confirmation of a 400,000 mt bilateral food aid to DPRK still appears linked to the shut down of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

Canadian Food Grain Bank delegation is visiting DPRK this week to explore resumption of its funding and partnering with WFP. The CSGB funded the WFP hosted FALU (Food Security Liaison Unit) between 2000 and 2005.

Lean season

WFP remains unable to assist two thirds of its planned beneficiaries, critically when DPRK enters its lean season. Pipeline shortfalls already hit in May, resulting in delayed distributions and cuts to beneficiaries' food basket.

WFP will have a total break in its cereal pipeline in June. During this month, food distributions will be suspended for 400,000 of its 700,000 beneficiaries while two of the remaining six food factories (producing fortified blended foods for vulnerable groups) will stop operating.

Cereals arrivals are to start again in July when WFP will resume distribution to 700,000 beneficiaries. WFP's pipeline and resource base remain very precarious and future suspension, notably of school feeding, might have to be considered by the end of September.

Ethiopia

A request for a loan from WFP's Immediate Response Account (IRA) request for US$6.6 million has been approved for the Targeted Supplementary Feeding (TSF) component of PRRO 10362 in order to prevent a pipeline break from July 2007.

WFP currently is borrowing from CSB stocks held by the Government Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) in order to meet needs in May and June 2007.

Upon receipt of IRA funds, local food processors should be able to deliver FAMIX, a fortified blended food, in time to meet July needs.

Refugees

The successful repatriation of Sudanese refugees is gradually reducing WFP’s refugee caseload in camps along Ethiopia’s western border with Southern Sudan. 15,000 refugees repatriated during the first quarter 2007, with more expected to return during the remainder of the year.

As a result, WFP’s annual requirements for 2007 for the refugee opeartion have been reduced to 21,500 mt (US$ 12 million).

WFP’s Country Director attended a Head of Agency meeting of donors to the Productive Safety Net Programme to discuss concerns that a lack of clarity between the roles of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency and the Food Security Coordination Bureau in addressing relief needs in safety net areas may result in delayed assistance if needs exceed the contingency level in the programme.

A meeting will be held with the Deputy Prime Minister to address this issue.

Procurement

The Government agreed to WFP procuring 4,000 mt of sorghum for relief needs.

As the Government is procuring 120,000 mt of cereals to meet Safety Net needs, WFP has limited its local procurement given legitimate concerns that further cereal procurement may push prices too high.

Insecurity remains an issue on both the Somalia and Eritrea borders. The situation is being closely monitored.

Kenya

The long rains season is intensifying in many areas, creating some road accessibility problems. The Garsen-Hola corridor, a crucial route for WFP operations in the north-eastern districts, remains impassable.

In some districts, rapid food security assessments organized by District Steering Groups are currently being conducted. These are districts where WFP has scaled down significantly or exited emergency operation due to significant improvements in food security as recommended by the assessments carried out in February.

The districts will present their findings to the national coordination body for review.

WFP and UNICEF signed an agreement to implement supplementary feeding in 10 pastoralist districts for 120,000 moderately malnourished children and pregnant/nursing mothers. The rollout of this programme is expected to start in June.

Displacement

WFP’s school feeding programme in Dadaab refugee camps remained temporarily suspended due to the outbreak of cholera in the camps and the recommendation by the Kenyan Director of Medical Services that all public eating places be closed. To date, more than 100 cholera cases have been confirmed in the three camps.

Over the last few months, violence in Somalia, particularly in the capital Mogadishu, has led to increased displacement within Somalia.

In Kenya, spontaneous arrivals continue in Dadaab camps; about 4,020 Somalis, up from 3,500 two weeks ago, have so far sought asylum since the border was officially closed by the Kenyan Government in early January 2007.

Occupied Palestinian territories

WFP Gaza staff and partners are back at work after being confined to their homes during heavy factional and cross-border fighting over the past week.

All staff are safe however the houses of four staff members and WFP Karni warehouse were damaged. Distributions have resumed (since Sunday 21 May).

Threat

While the ceasefire is holding, cross-border strikes are stepping up pace. These pose a continued threat to WFP staff/partners and property.

No international staff movement is permitted to Gaza due to increasing radicalism and extremely high kidnapping threats. Only the most critical staff remain in Gaza for the time-being.

Somalia

Insecurity continued in Mogadishu and other parts of South and central Somalia.

On May 16, five Ugandan AU peacekeepers were killed in a bomb blast that was targeted at their convoy.

On May 17, Somalia premier, Mohammed Gedi, escaped a bomb attack.

Grenade

A hand grenade that was thrown at his convoy in Mogadishu did not explode. The same day, a heavy explosion occurred in Bardere town of Gedo region killing three and wounding 15 others.

There is a growing concern about the fact that the Somali coastline, a key shipping route, is threatened by increasing spate of piracy. Somalia lies close to crucial shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean where cargo ships pass.

Last week, two South Korean-owned fishing vessels were attacked by 12 armed men off the coast of Somalia and their 24 crew members were kidnapped.

Pirates

The vessels were en route to Yemen from the Kenyan port of Mombasa. On May 14, a Qatar-flagged cargo ship, heading to Dubai from South Africa, was attacked by pirates 180 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, the pirates fired grenade launchers at the ship in an attempt to stop it, but it managed to escape.

On May 19, a Jordanian-registered vessel (MV Victoria) came under attack from pirates about 60 nautical miles from Merka, south of Mogadishu.

A Somali guard was killed in the attack. The vessel was en route to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam after discharging 4,000 mt of WFP food.

Distributions

The second round distributions to IDPs who fled recent conflict in Mogadishu began on May 18. Delays were caused by the blockage of convoys at TFG checkpoints, and a number of trucks overturning in muddy roads caused by heavy “Gu” rains.

Two CARE International employees who were abducted on May 9 in Puntland, northeast Somalia, were freed on 15 May. Six Somalis who were also kidnapped with the two foreigners have also been released.

Sri Lanka

In Batticaloa, 138,597 IDPs currently require food assistance. IDP Resettlement into West Batticaloa commenced on May 15 with around 30,000 IDPs expected to resettle by May 24.

The Government has allocated LKR US$5 million for the provision of a one month dry food ration to resettled individuals/families. WFP will continue to prioritise IDPs but is working with Government and other agencies to ensure assistance to returnees.

The food security situation in Jaffna continues to deteriorate. WFP has only been able to ship 200 mt of commodities since 11 March to this isolated district and the current stock there is now some 200 mt.

Boycott

While a general food distribution ration was distributed in the first week of April, further components are on hold due to lack of food.

A school boycott has been called which may affect the FFE programme.

Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are also receiving considerably less food that required with an average of just 11 percent of requirements received in the last month.

The lack of central Government agreement to the local Government IDP numbers continues to cause problems.

Skirmishes

The security situation is stable though regular skirmishes on Southern FDL (Forward Defence Line) close lines periodically for short periods of time (1/2-2 days) affecting both staff and food movement into and out of the AOR (Area of Responsibility).

Ampara currently has 12,244 registered IDPs. Field monitoring reveals IDPs are reluctant to register due to the increased child recruitment by para-military groups or out of fear of compulsory resettlement.

Sudan

In April, WFP assisted 2.6 million beneficiaries in Sudan with more than 32,000 mt of food.

Included in this figure were some 2.1 million beneficiaries in Darfur alone. Prevailing violence and the subsequent lack of access hindered assistance reaching about 62,600 people in South Darfur.

WFP cooperating partner, World Vision (WV) suspended food distributions in Otash Camp in South Darfur after beneficiaries became hostile towards WV staff during a food distribution.

School feeding

The cause was disagreements over the beneficiary list. WFP requested interventions from the Government to ensure staff safety and continue distributions.

WFP monitored its school-feeding programmes in remote locations of Tokar, Red Sea State for first time after four months.

Despite the remoteness of the schools, WFP provides regular meals to school children in the most chronically poor areas.

Access

WFP has resumed operations in IDP camps around Kassala in East Sudan following assurances by the Humanitarian Aid Commission that access through checkpoints would be granted.

WFP has since completed food dispatches for 85,000 refugees in camps. WFP’s operations have been affected twice already this year (in February and April) as access negotiations with local authorities have progressed slowly.