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Hunger's global hotspots: 14 February 2007

From Afghanistan to Haiti, WFP is on the frontline of crises across the globe. Find out the latest from these crisis hotspots with WFP's operation update.

From Afghanistan to Haiti, WFP is on the frontline of crises across the globe. Find out the latest from these crisis hotspots with WFP's operation update.

Introduction

From Afghanistan to Haiti, WFP is on the frontline of crises across the globe. Find out the latest from these crisis hotspots with WFP's weekly operational priorities update.

Afghanistan

Military operations and insurgents’ attacks continue in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, imposing restrictions on humanitarian interventions in these areas where WFP has numerous planned activities.

It is feared that insurgents’ attacks will increase in spring at levels greater than seen in 2006 and that the countering operations by Afghan and international forces will prompt further population displacement.

An estimated 8,000 people have reportedly fled Musa Qala after Taliban fighters last week overran this district of the Helmand province.

Heavy snows

These IDPs have sought refuge in Lashkargah city and neighbouring districts of Helmand where WFP has already been assisting 1,470 IDP families.

WFP has dispatched food for 2,900 families, including the previous 1,470 IDP families. UNICEF and UNHCR will provide non-food items (NFIs) to these IDPs.

Road blockage due to snow has prevented the dispatch of 400 mt of food to Daikundi in the central highlands. Bad road conditions, worsened in winter by heavy snows, continue to be an impediment to food deliveries, particularly in mountainous areas.

WFP food assistance to food insecure Afghans continues under various activities including assistance to TB patients, drought-affected people, food for education, food for work and food for training. During the week, 1,700 mt of food were distributed to 110,000 people under these activities

Burundi

From November 2006, torrential rains, together with a prolonged lean season (period between harvests) have been severely affecting the most densely populated and food insecure areas in Burundi. In late December, the Government officially declared the situation as a “national disaster”.

The Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) undertaken in January throughout the country by the Ministry of Agriculture, WFP, FAO, OCHA and UNICEF indicates that rains have destroyed 50-80 percent of the expected November harvest and significant parts of the January harvest.

Nearly two million people (about 25 percent of the population) are in immediate need of WFP assistance. In April – May (lean season) this number is expected to increase to 2.4 million (about 30 percent of the population).

WFP is particularly concerned as this situation comes in addition to serious food insecurity already existing in many areas.

Worrying trends

In response, WFP plans to increase distribution levels up to 14,000 mt in April, May and June – the peak of the crisis. There are ongoing preparations with FAO for the Seeds Protection Ration campaign (SPR), starting from mid-February, reaching some 300,000 beneficiaries.

A number of worrying trends underline the seriousness of the situation, including negative coping mechanisms such as sale of assets, reduction of food intake, theft of crops, increased violence and displacement, including cross border movements to Tanzania, making the crisis potentially regional. Furthermore, admissions to therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres are increasing.

Deaths and morbidity rates are on the increase as well. The operation will have a pipeline break as of April which will coincide with the peak of the crisis. With the current resource situation all programmes will cease to operate as of that date

Chad

The security situation in eastern Chad continues to be unstable and complex. No improvement in either the inter-ethnic problems or the Government/rebel activity can be noted.

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are in need of assistance in eastern Chad. WFP has increased planning figures for IDPs and host families from 80,000 to up to 110,000 beneficiaries.

The WFP Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) to assess IDP numbers and requirements for assistance started on 9 February. This week the mission is visiting sites in Amtiman and Farchana area.

Suspended

Due to the security situation UNHCR and UNICEF have suspended their participation in the mission. Another mission to Goz Beida is planned in the coming week.

Many IDP sites will become inaccessible during the rainy season and food needs to be urgently distributed during the period January-May 2007.

Due to continued insecurity in the east the Government requested UNHCR to relocate refugee camps towards the centre of the country. An evaluation mission took place to assess potential sites for relocation. Priority is the relocation to Oure Cassoni and Amnaback camps.

Congo D.R.

The inaugural speech of DRC's newly elected Head of State gives hope for stabilisation, recovery and development of the country.

If the political and security situations are stabilised, needs will increase, as more people become accessible. Infrastructure is extremely poor.

Support for essential infrastructure rebuilding is needed to make a substantial impact on cost of food delivery. At present, logistic constraints result in very high transportation costs.

Assisting isolated regions

Funds continue to be required for the airlift operation to deliver emergency food assistance to various isolated and unreachable parts of the country.

Effective early warning systems are necessary to increase the monitoring capacity of the humanitarian community.

However, early warning systems entail regular costly surveys (household coping strategies), which WFP currently cannot sustain due to funding constraints.

DPRK

OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

With current limited funding, WFP feeds about 740,000 people in 29 counties in North Korea. Financial constraints are hampering expansion efforts to reach all 1.9 million people in the 50 most food insecure counties.

Doubts remain as to the ability of the Public Distribution System (PDS) to provide the daily average of 500 grams of cereals throughout the country. At best, it is believed partial PDS rations are distributed only in selected areas.

Stringent access and travel conditions continue to impact WFP efforts (eg. travel plans required two-weeks in advance).

Renewed attention

Visits to paediatric wards of county hospitals are not permitted. WFP’s "no access, no food" policy continues to be strictly enforced, with food only provided to areas where needs can be assessed and distributions monitored.

The UN in DPRK recently came under renewed attention following criticisms of the UNDP Country Programme in the lead up to its Executive Board annual meeting.

Some members were concerned with utilisation of hard currency and staffing practices by UN agencies. In accordance with commitments made by the SG, all UN agencies, funds and programmes will undergo external audits within the coming months. WFP last underwent an external audit in 2005.

Ethiopia

The Humanitarian Appeal 2007 in Ethiopia is expected to be launched in February. It is thought that the relief caseload for the first half of 2007 will only include food-insecure people in Somali region and those living in areas currently not covered by the PSNP.

In addition, the relief response will now be based on a regular assessment of needs, requiring significant strengthening of the monitoring and assessment systems in Ethiopia.

The new Country Programme 10430.0 will face shortfalls for both activities as of February 2007 amounting to 9,726 mt cereal for MERET (Act. 1) and for CHILD (Act. 2) the shortfall is 4,329 mt blended food and 686 mt vegetable oil.

Expected shortfalls

New contributions to the protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) 10127.2 are needed to replenish the Immediate Response Account (IRA) and to cover needs beyond May 2007, when the PRRO is expected to experience shortfalls again.

WFP Ethiopia's support to the government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) continues in 2007. Donors and UN agencies have expressed concern over the government’s intention that the PSNP assist only those living in PSNP areas that require transitory relief assistance.

The capacity of the PSNP to expand is in question. WFP faces an 110,000 mt shortfall in meeting the current food requirements under the PSNP.

Guinea

The deteriorating living conditions in the forest region in Guinea has led the local population to express their dissatisfaction with the local government.

Demonstrations in the N’Zérékoré region occurred in October 2006, and are continuing in the context of the current nationwide strikes.

In January 2007, and again since last week, violent clashes beween the local population and security forces claimed the lives of several people and caused many wounded.

As a result of the tense security situation, field missions and food dispatches for the canteens and local cooperating partners were suspended for most of January and again this week.

Access difficult

However, food for the forest region’s school canteens is already prepositioned; and January distributions in the refugee camps will be ensured by food aid monitors.

Due to the poor road conditions, access to the forest region remains difficult and the two day transit from Conakry to N’Zérékoré now requires an average of fourteen days.

In spite of these challenges, food transports are being undertaken again over the Macenta-Guékédou road.

Isolation

The relative isolation of the forest region and the resulting reduction in food and fuel supplies caused an increase in the prices of transport and basic goods, affecting the implementation of WFP’s activities: the repatriation of Liberian refugees has proceeded more slowly than planned and food dispatching for school canteens is difficult.

The PRRO general food distributions were replaced by targeted food distributions for vulnerable refugee groups in October 2006 following recommendations by the WFP/UNHCR Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) in July 2006.

Haiti

Owing to a pipeline shortage of pulses, rations were modified (increasing Oil/CSB) for the month of October in the PRRO nutrition component. WFP ensured minimal variations of nutritional value for the targeted beneficiaries.

However, Haiti CO is facing a pipeline break of CSB and needs urgently to secure contributions for this commodity. WFP in close coordination with the Government carried out a distribution of Vitamin A reaching more than 140,000 children in the Northern provinces.

De-worming campaign

WFP is also preparing the first de-worming campaign of 2007 scheduled for April expected to cover 600,000 school children.

The Hurricane season will start early May 2007 and will last until the end of November. WFP Haiti Country Office, implementing the “Cluster Approach”, has already initiated partnerships in order to improve preparedness, stock pre-positioning, evaluations and standardisation.

Kenya

The food security assessment by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (Government of Kenya, UN and NGOs) started on 3 February.

The 3-week assessment will determine the impact of the short rains season on the drought-/flood-affected households. The findings will determine the level of intervention from March 2007.

Air operation

The air operation to support the Government and humanitarian agencies by delivering relief items to populations marooned by floods closed down at the end of January, as roads are accessible. The UNHAS passenger service will continue until 12 February.

The Government of Kenya continues to restrict the inflow of asylum seekers from Somalia, with less than 100 refugees spontaneously arriving in Dadaab over the last few weeks.

In anticipation of a large influx should the border open, WFP has 200 mt of high energy biscuits and BP5s in country as well as an additional 11 portable warehouses are en route to Dadaab.

Sri Lanka

IDPs continue to arrive in the Batti district of Sri Lanka and the Government is already planning to re-settle the IDPs within the next three weeks. Partnership with ICRC ensures provision of rice as part of the IDP food ration in Batti and Trinco.

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

WFP assessments in Jaffna and the Vanni predict deterioration in food security. Food prices are rising rapidly, daily labour rates are down by 10-20 percent and fishermen have had little income since May 2006.

Trade is disrupted and the January 2007 harvest is likely to be significantly lower than usual.

Somalia

Security remains the primary concern in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, again this week. Attacks along the Mogadishu - Balad road close to the Ethiopian military base have reportedly increased.

An African Union (AU) delegation visited Mogadishu on 4 February to assess the security situation and to meet with officials of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ahead of a proposed deployment of AU Peacekeeping Force.

WFP has begun to undertake a sixth round relief food distribution this week in the flood-affected areas of Jilib (53,777 beneficiaries) and Jamame (26,304 beneficiaries).

Security concerns

A total of 1,654 mt of mixed commodities will be distributed. Lack of access to the areas due to security concerns delayed the planned distributions until now.

Trucks carrying humanitarian supplies, which include 3,600 mt of WFP food aid destined for Gedo, Southwest Somalia, were held-up for over two weeks at the Kenyan-Somalia border crossings of El-wak and Mandera.

Kenya officially closed its border with Somalia on 2 January, due to security concerns. Following continued discussions between WFP and Kenyan authorities to allow trucks carrying humanitarian supplies into Somalia, one of the border posts has now been opened and humanitarian supplies are moving.

Crop failure

Findings from the post Deyr (long rains) assessment undertaken by the Food Security and Analysis Unit (FSAU) indicate a decline in the number of Somalis in humanitarian emergency and acute food and livelihood crises following better crop harvest due to good Deyr rains.

However the riverine areas along the Juba and Shabelle rivers experienced total crop failure as a result of recent floods.

Sudan

In January, WFP and cooperating partners provided assistance to 2.4 million beneficiaries including 2.2 million internally displaced peoples (IDPs) and vulnerable residents in Sudan's Darfur region.

Almost 158,000 people in Darfur did not receive food assistance in January as insecurity affected humanitarian access to locations and people in West and South Darfur. In the northern corridor of West Darfur, more than 5,000 people fled fighting and insecurity before distributions could take place.

In South Darfur, more than 152,000 beneficiaries, including IDPs in Gereida, could not be assisted due to insecurity.

Restricted access

However, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) resumes food distributions in Gereida today, where 122,000 people did not receive food assistance in January.

Towards the end of January, UN agencies began reporting cases of restricted access in Kassala. The inter-agency rapid needs assessment in Hamesh Koreib has, therefore, not yet taken place.

The first attempt on 3 February was denied access. Hamesh Koreib was declared a GO area, following a recent security assessment mission, the first of its kind in five years.

Temporary suspension

The joint UN/GONU/GOSS organised repatriation of southern IDPs from Khartoum continued during the week. The first convoy left on 3 February for Kadugli in Southern Kordofan.

An outbreak of meningitis in parts of southern Sudan is raising serious concerns as humanitarian activities are being temporarily suspended.

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