UN World Food Programme

Hunger's global hotspots: 11 May 2007

Ten countries where violence persists and populations live in fear. People in Hunger's Global Hotspots don't know what tomorrow will bring and they often have to rely on WFP for their next meal.

Introduction

Ten countries where violence persists and populations live in fear. People in Hunger's Global Hotspots don't know what tomorrow will bring and they often have to rely on WFP for their next meal.

Afghanistan

Insecurity remains the major concern for programme delivery and monitoring in most parts of the country, particularly in southern and eastern regions but now also in the west.

Aid workers in Afghanistan continue to face a high risk of abduction, assassination or suicide bombing attacks. The most recent example was the murder of a UNHCR senior driver by unidentified persons in Kandahar city.

Several security incidents are reported every day throughout the country. On 10 May an attack on a WFP commercial vehicle convoy was reported in the eastern Nuristan province and UN road missions in most districts of the south remain suspended due to insecurity.

Taliban

WFP has delivered food as a part of a package that includes non-food items from UNICEF, UNHCR and the Afghan Red Crescent Society to assist 900 IDP families displaced by recent fighting between combined Afghan/international forces and Taliban insurgents in the western province of Herat.

The total number of IDPs in this area is estimated at 1,700 families.

Flash floods affecting several districts in Badakhshan province - in the north-eastern part of the country - have been reported.

A joint mission including WFP, UNAMA and the Governor of Badakhshan visited Baharak district and 24 mt of food were delivered to 1,200 flood-affected in this district. On-site assessments are being conducted in the other flood-affected areas.

Chad

The security situation is calm throughout the country but tense and of concern in the east. There are continued reports of inter-ethnic attacks, military movements and increased crime committed by armed civilians.

Following the deteriorating security conditions in the east, WFP made the decision to plan an additional three months' food assistance to ensure food aid for 140,000 IDPs till end 2007.

However, the IDP ration may be reduced from October through December depending on the outcomes of a rapid crop assessment of the IDP agricultural activities planned in June 2007.

Pre-positioning before rains

This assessment will allow WFP to identify the level of self-reliance of the IDPs and their food needs. The EMOP will require a budget revision to accommodate the additional IDP requirements.

WFP is currently concerned with pre-positioning enough food stocks for the Sudanese refugees and IDPs before the start of the rainy season in June, when roads are officially closed and most camps become inaccessible. WFP needs to pre-position over 30,000 mt of food in the eastern camps for five months.

Congo DR

IDPs crisis 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.

Accused of collaborating with militias or governmental troops, peasant farmers continue to be targeted by various opposing armed groups. The cycle of violence increasingly restrains WFP food aid operation in the area.

While administrative harassment is due to underpayment 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 ruling WFP’s relationships with the DRC government.

Pipeline break

A pipeline break is anticipated in the middle of the year. Though the pipeline is currently healthy, it is likely to be exhausted due to the increasing needs. WFP anticipates that as early as July, some commodities such as cereals, pulses and oil may be required.

LTSH costs represent 33 percent of the total costs. Support for rebuilding of essential infrastructure is needed to make a substantial impact on cost reduction of food delivery.

At present, logistic constraints result in very high transportation costs. Airlift operations are still required in the eastern part of the country.

DPRK

WFP has agreed with the Government that it will be conducting a mid-term evaluation of the protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) in June/July and will start initial discussions with the Government about the future of the project beyond March 2008.

Only five contributions (CERF, Germany, Luxembourg, Turkey and Australia) have been confirmed to the PRRO since the beginning of the year.

"Lean season"

WFP’s food supplies will progressively start being depleted over the coming months which will correspond to the “lean season” that will be particularly harsh and difficult this year.

Pipeline breaks are scheduled for June (FFCD activities) due to a lack of funding and delays in the receipt of contributions.

Ethiopia

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

Five different WFP Walk-the-World events took place across the country on Sunday, 13 May 2007.

All the funds raised will be used to support WFP's school feeding activities, which currently assist some 653,000 school children in drought-prone areas of Ethiopia.

However, WFP is struggling to provide assistance to this current caseload due to shortage of funding.

Urgent contributions sought

Apart from it's food-for-education programme, WFP Ethiopia continues to face serious pipeline breaks for a number of its other activities, including refugee and targeted supplementary feeding schemes that assist malnourished children under the age of five, and pregnant and nursing women.

Urgent contributions from donors are being sought to offset cuts in food distributions and possible increases in malnutrition rates amongst WFP's beneficiaries in Ethiopia.

Kenya

Food distributions under the Emergency Operation (EMOP) of the most current phase that started in the last week of April in 14 districts continued.

During the six month period, 1.3 million people will receive food assistance - 819,000 under general food distribution, 100,000 under food-for-assets, 271,000 children under emergency school feeding, and 120,000 children and women under supplementary feeding.

The long rains season is underway in most parts of the country.

Roads deteriorating

As a result, road conditions in some areas are deteriorating. For example, the Garsen-Hola corridor, a crucial route for WFP operations in the north-eastern districts, has reportedly deteriorated in recent days.

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

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

Cholera outbreak

WFP’s school feeding programme in Dadaab camps has been temporarily suspended due to an 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, 73 cholera cases have been confirmed in Dadaab. Of these, 64 are recorded in Hagadera with 11 new cases over the course of the week.

UNHCR is suspending the registration exercise in Hagadera because of the potential risk of staff contracting the disease.

WFP and partners are seeking advice from the Ministry of Health on recommended measures for schools to adopt to allow the school feeding programme to resume.

Occupied Palestinian territory

The heaviest factional fighting since a unity Government was formed in February has broken out in Gaza.

This has led to a sharp decline in the security situation and the resignation of the Palestinian Interior Minister, Hani Kawasmeh. Fighting has been the heaviest in Gaza City and the middle areas of the Gaza strip.

All WFP staff are safe and have been advised to remain in their homes for the time being.

WFP warehouses are full and as soon as security permits, it is expected that implementing partners will be able to resume distributions.

Kidnapping threat

The kidnapping threat against International staff in Gaza has been raised further this week.

WFP remains concerned about the impact of the continued escalation of the fighting on staff safety and the most vulnerable populations in Gaza.

UN agencies are accelerating the joint contingency planning exercise in Gaza to ensure a coordinated response.

WFP has one month's contingency stocks pre-positioned throughout the West Bank and Gaza in order to be able to quickly respond to any emergency needs.

Somalia

Although major combat between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)/Ethiopian forces and insurgents in Mogadishu has subsided, and a relative calm seems to be holding, four explosions have been reported in town during the last week.

On 9 May two international staff of CARE International were kidnapped around Hafun town located in the Semi-autonomous region of Puntland- northeast Somalia.

Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) has reported that the fighting in Mogadishu has, in addition to causing massive displacement, led to increases of between 30 and 70 percent in the cost of transport, water and basic food and non-food items over the past four weeks.

Budget revision

The sharp increase is now compounding problems of loss of livelihood and income.

WFP Somalia is preparing a budget revision in order to respond adequately to the current and other crises in Somalia.

A few of the displaced from Mogadishu are returning, but most are still hesitant. UNHCR estimated that up to 395,000 people have been displaced from Mogadishu since February.

Rains

WFP has assisted 114,000 of the total and hopes to reach up to 150,000 in the coming weeks. Other aid agencies like CARE and ICRC have also assisted some of the IDPs.

Heavy “Gu” rains (long rains) received in South Somalia and Ethiopian highlands during the week have begun to impede access. Some major roads in south and central Somalia have been rendered impassable.

Sri Lanka

The situation continues to deteriorate in Sri Lanka with recent incidents raising concerns for staff security, in part due to the increase in para-military groups.

The Karuna Group, which separated from the LTTE in 2004 and has become worryingly powerful in the East, has apparently split into two groups after serious in-fighting which led to battles in Batticaloa on 11 May.

In Batticaloa, as of 5 May there are some 137,000 IDPs (37,788 families) who require food assistance. The Government has stated that 30,000 will return home after 14 May and a further 70,000 will return after 1 June, so WFP is estimating a displaced caseload of some 40,000 by mid-June.

Mother-child focus

Resource constraints mean that WFP continues to prioritise the displaced either in camps or with host families over returnees. However in the recently returned area of Vaharai, returnees are now asking for food assistance.

Mother and Child Nutrition and Food for Education programmes have both restarted in this area. 12,316 IDPs (3,184 families) have been registered in Ampara district, mostly coming from Batticaloa.

The food security situation in Jaffna continues to deteriorate with less food imported into the district and the re-imposition of fishing bans affecting livelihoods. Prices are now rising.

Air attacks

WFP is still waiting for Government authorisation to ship 1,000 metric tonnes of food to this isolated district.

Following air attacks on Colombo including the international airport, from Thursday 3 May the airport will now close at night necessitating rescheduling of all flights.

The Government has also restricted domestic flights and banned those using float planes which land on irrigation reservoirs.

Sudan

The security situation in Darfur remained volatile this week as incidents of vehicle hijackings and armed violence continued, directly targeting the humanitarian community.

Due to the increased threat of insecurity, WFP was unable to conduct Food Security Assessments in Kutum, North Darfur.

Following insecurity and targeted attacks on humanitarian agencies, WFP cooperating partner German Agro Action (GAA) announced indefinite suspension of activities in Dar Zagawa, Um Baro, Birmaza and Hashaba in North Darfur.

Villages burnt

Tribal clashes in Dartani, North Darfur resulted in the burning of 10 villages, an estimated 64 people killed and more than 6,000 people displaced to Serief Bin Hussein.

WFP distributed about 105 mt of food assistance to 6,066 beneficiaries. WFP recommended including the beneficiaries in the monthly food distribution caseload.