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Hunger's global hotspots: 1st March 2007

From Afghanistan to Sudan, 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 Afghanistan to Sudan, 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

Armed conflict continues to prompt population displacement in the southern province of Helmand.

Taliban insurgents attacked Musa Qala District in early February prompting the displacement of an estimated 8,000 people.

The conflict has now escalated and affected more districts in Helmand. Between 15 and 22 February 2,400 families fled Kajaki District and sought refuge in the provincial capital Lashkargah and neighbouring areas.

Rise in insurgency

WFP has already been assisting 3,000 combat-affected IDP families in the province and will now assist this new caseload.

The number of IDPs is expected to increase as insurgency activities increase, possibly to a level greater than that seen in 2006.

Taliban fighters also overran Bakwa District in the western Farah province on 19 February.

The main road linking Kandahar and Herat passes through this district and there is fear that this could affect the delivery of 40,000 tons of WFP food which must move along this corridor in the coming few months.

Burundi

The disarmament process of at least 3,000 ex-combatants of the last rebel group in Burundi, Front National de Libération (FNL) is expected to start in March.

However inconclusive talks last week between parties under the Cease Fire Agreement dated 7 September 2006, may further delay the process.

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

Coping mechanisms

Torrential rains have destroyed the majority of late 2006/early 2007 harvests, leaving up to two million people in need of food assistance.

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 tons in April, May and June – which is expected to be the peak of 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 some 1,530 tons of food.

Chad

The security situation in eastern Chad is tense and continues to deteriorate. Another truck transporting WFP food to the refugee camps in Goz Beida came under attack on 16 February. No victims are reported.

During the week an emergency food security assessment (EFSA) was completed for the IDPs in the east. The mission targeted Assongha, Sila, Salamat and Barh Azoum departments. Findings indicate some 99,800 IDPs in 16 locations.

Emergency food aid

In 7 out of fifteen sites visited, the food security situation of the IDPs is of concern and the mission recommended emergency food aid.

For the nine other sites WFP support would be necessary only during the lean period (April/May).

February distributions for refugees in Chad are completed. WFP provided 221,400 Sudanese refugees with over 3,500 tons of food and 27,252 CAR refugees with 248 tons of food.

Congo D.R.

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

WFP is finalising an extensive market survey which will enable WFP to optimise local purchase opportunities.

In March, WFP will begin an extensive vulnerability assessment study in 350 villages for a better understanding of vulnerabilities.

DPRK

Without sufficient food aid and food exports entering DPRK, vulnerable groups and food insecure regions are experiencing a second consecutive winter without enough food supplies.

The winter season is traditionally characterised by “hidden” malnutrition” problems among vulnerable DPR Koreans due to less than adequate access to food supplies and the reliance on poorly balanced diet, deficient in vitamins and minerals.

Further last week’s confirmation by the Ministry of Public Health of a measles outbreak in many areas of the country, a emergency immunization campaign will be launched with UNICEF’s support; Phase I of the campaign will target 6 million children below 16 and is scheduled to start March 14.

Ethiopia

Donors and UN agencies have expressed concern over the government’s intention that the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) absorbs relief needs in PSNP areas. The capacity of the PSNP to expand is in question.

Given the government’s new relief response strategy to provide food only on further assessment of need on a “case-by-case” basis, WFP and partners are working together to support the government in strengthening the monitoring and assessment systems in Ethiopia.

Clan conflicts

A joint WFP-FAO mission met this week with government and partners to develop an Ethiopia strategy for the Horn of Africa Initiative, a regional initiative to build on and scale-up successful operations in promoting food security.

Localised clan conflicts in Somali region have disrupted some food distributions. Fortunately, most had been completed prior to the outbreak.

Guinea

Field missions and food dispatches for canteens and local cooperating partners have been suspended for most of this year. However, food for the forest region’s school canteens has already been prepositioned, and January distributions in the refugee camps were ensured.

WFP has carried out February distributions for Ivorian refugees in Kouankan I camp, and Liberian refugees in Lainé camp.

Conakry’s port is not operational and transport by road is impossible owing to the security situation.

Difficult transportation

Vessels carrying WFP food are being rerouted to Monrovia. 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 14 days.

In collaboration with other humanitarian agencies, WFP is providing the wounded in Conakry’s two main hospitals with food. The WFP Humanitarian Air Service (HAS), which usually links Conakry with Kissidougou, N’Zérékoré, Monrovia and Freetown, now includes Conakry-Dakar.

With the suspension of commercial flights, the HAS plays a key role in carrying out evacuations, airlifting humanitarian personnel and medical supplies. A CERF grant for the HAS and telecommunications has been approved, and a funding proposal for food has been submitted.

Haiti

Owing to a current punctual pipeline shortage of rice (arrivals are scheduled end of February), rations were modified (increasing Oil/CSB) for the month of January and February in the PRRO nutrition component.

WFP ensured minimal variations of nutritional value for the targeted beneficiaries.

WFP in close coordination with the Government carried out a distribution of Vitamin A reaching more than 140.000 children in the Northern provinces.

Hurricane season

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 June 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 standardization.

Kenya

The three-week food security assessment by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (Government of Kenya (GoK), UN agencies and NGOs) ended on 23 February.

The three-week assessment will determine the impact of the short rains season on the drought-/flood-affected households. The results are expected in mid-March, and will determine the level of emergency intervention from March 2007.

Refugees

Despite the Kenya-Somali border remaining closed to all but humanitarian cargo, a total of 1,660 new Somalis have been reported in Dadaab Refugee Camps since January 2007.

WFP is providing food assistance to these new arrivals, as well as the existing Dadaab caseload of 175,000 refugees. WFP Kenya remains prepared to assist any new arrivals fleeing conflict in Somalia.

Some 58 cases of adult measles have been reported in Dadaab Refugee Camps, with eight cases confirmed positive. In addition, schools are closed due to a teacher strike over remuneration hence no school feeding is taking place at present.

During the week, the official count in Kakuma Refugee Camp decreased by 3,612 to 78,922 refugees as a result of an on-going biometric registration exercise.

Madagascar

As a result of the passage of the cyclone Bondo (December 2006), tropical storms Clovis (January 2007) and Favio (February 2007), the capital region, the north-eastern and the south-eastern parts of the country have been flooded.

The January issue of the rice observatory indicates a loss of 63,600 tons of rice crops.

WFP and Agro Action Allemande have started targeted distributions of 360 mt to about 100,000 beneficiaries in 13 counties in the South East.

Food-for-work

This targeted 10-day distribution will be followed by food-for-work activities.

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

In the South East, distributions will be targeted to families with children under 3 and families with pregnant women, both groups being the most vulnerable to malnutrition.

Pre-position

The 115 tons of pre-positioned food in Majunga (North West) will permit WFP to address the flooding situation in Mampikony and Marovoay.

WFP, the Malagasy Red Cross and the Catholic Relief Service will both start targeted distributions in the affected areas in the northwestern and the western parts of the country.

Mozambique

Tropical cyclone Favio hit the central coast of Mozambique on 22 February as a Category 4 cyclone, with torrential rains and wind speeds up to 220 km/hr.

Early reports from Inhambane province indicate widespread destruction of houses, hospitals, schools, prisons and tourist hotels. WFP’s wiikhall in Machanga district of Sofala province was flattened in the wind and rains, damaging 50 tons of food.

WFP has placed staff in each of the districts in the path of the storm to coordinate disaster response plans with local Government officials and cooperating partners.

WFP has arranged a fly-over assessment of the affected area on 24 February with Government representatives and other humanitarian partners.

Lost assets and crops

To date, 140,000 people have been physically displaced by flood waters in the Zambezi River basin, with an estimated 285,000 affected by loss of assets and crops in the four provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia.

As of 21 Feb, WFP and partners had distributed 289 mt of food to over 53,000 people in flood accommodation centres. Air ops are ongoing in the flood zone for rescue, assessments and emergency supply deliveries.

The National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) has requested WFP assistance with logistics and telecom support and food assistance for 285,000 people for three months.

Fundraising

A Humanitarian Country Team rapid-response CERF request was approved on 22 Feb, but for only 50 percent of the requested funds for food assistance and less than 50 percent for air ops and augmented logistics.

WFP is fundraising at local and international levels to cover these shortfalls.

Food shortfalls have prompted a reduction of PRRO activities for the first quarter of 2007, resulting in the reduction of roughly 10,000 beneficiaries and 34 field level agreements with community-based partners.

Occupied Palestinian Territories

WFP assists 46,000 people in the Nablus area. WFP is working with OCHA, UNRWA and UNICEF to assess the most urgent humanitarian needs of the affected population affected by the current military action in the city, and has prepositioned ready-to-eat food for 8,000 individuals including canned meat, oil, sugar, chickpeas and bread.

There are fears that the violence will spill into other West Bank cities if the incursion continues.

WFP has maintained a steady pipeline of humanitarian goods into Gaza over the past two months.

The WFP/FAO food security report was released late February and the findings have received wide media coverage.

Somalia

The security situation in Mogadishu remains tense. A series of mortar attacks were reported near the Ethiopian military base; convoys have been advised to take extra precautions on this route.

The use of a roadside bomb is of grave concern and threatens the security and movement of humanitarian staff in Mogadishu. An explosive device detonated at the venue of a military ceremony in Kismayo, killing four and wounding several others.

Authorisation

Authorisation for humanitarian cargo to cross the Kenya/Somalia border is erratic.

Thirty-nine trucks carrying WFP food aid were allowed through the El-wak border crossing into Somalia on 13 February.

Mandera border crossing has remained closed for the past seven weeks.

Humanitarian agencies are greatly concerned by the border closure, which has delayed the transport/pre-positioning of humanitarian supplies.

Crossing into Somalia

UN agencies, NGOs and diplomatic missions are continuing efforts to secure unrestricted crossing of humanitarian supplies into Somalia.

WFP distributed 375 mt of relief food commodities to 7,000 IDPs in north Galkayo. 21,000 beneficiaries in Badhadhe district, Lower Juba region will receive 415 tons of WFP relief food through Horn Relief next week.

The Food Security and Analysis Unit of FAO (FSAU) released its findings of Deyr (long rains) assessment.

Acute food crisis

The results of the 2006 Gu (short rains) assessment indicated that 1.4 million Somalis were in acute food and livelihood crisis and another 400,000 IDPs in need of humanitarian assistance.

The 2007 findings showed a decline to 230,000 people requiring humanitarian assistance and 360,000 slowly recovering but still require complementary livelihood intervention.

Additionally, 400,000 IDPs in the south, but mainly in Mogadishu, might still need assistance.

WFP is revising its distribution plan based on the new figures and will target some 850,000 people across Somalia with 78,000 tons of food aid until the next harvest in July 2007.

Sudan

Insecurity and violence continues to present major operational challenges for agencies working in Darfur.

While February distributions are ongoing, including ICRC's assistance to IDPs in Gereida, WFP is planning to carry out as many double-distributions as possible in March as part of its preparedness and mitigation strategy.

Cooperating partner Solidarités has informed WFP that they will be suspending their activities including food distributions in Muhajeryia of South Darfur, given the escalating insecurity and looting of two vehicles last week.

Assessment

A large influx of Arab Nomads feeling insecurity in Chad was reported in Shukri of West Darfur. As assessment led by UNHCR is being scheduled.

WFP’s dispatch of food has temporarily been suspended in Kassala as agencies continue to experience movement constraints outside Kassala town.

In February, only 33,540 refugees have received food while the remaining encamped beneficiaries, totalling 51,540 refugees and 12,839 IDPs, have not yet received this month’s entitlements.

Repatriation

After nearly a two month suspension, UNMAO has now declared the Kurmuk-Chalie road as safe to travel thereby enabling the resumption of the repatriation programme of refugees from Bonga camp in Ethiopia to Chalie in South Blue Nile.

The first convoy is expected to depart Bonga camp on 26 Feb and arrive in Kurmuk, South Blue Nile on 1 March. WFP will provide 3 months food ration on arrival.

WFP and sister agencies continued to receive returnees from Ethiopia. Some 4,000 spontaneous returnees were assisted in Akobo of Jonglei state and another 634 in Boma. Their final destinations are in Central Equatoria and Upper Nile states.

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