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Hunger's global hotspots: 22 February 2007

From Afghanistan to Sudan, 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.

Introduction

From Afghanistan to Sudan, 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

Insecurity continues to seriously limit WFP staff movements in southern, south-eastern and eastern Afghanistan and remains the major constraint for implementing and monitoring activities in these regions where food availability for populations already chronically food-insecure, has decreased over the last past seven months because of armed violence, drought conditions and an especially harsh winter.

WFP has planned several activities to provide assistance to 900,000 people in these regions during 2007.

WFP plans to dispatch 10,000 metric tonnes of food to 286,000 drought-affected people in the central highlands provinces. Mainly due to heavy snow, that is blocking roads to many communities, reaching vulnerable people in this region is a significant challenge.

Field missions

During this week, field missions were conducted and meetings were held with local authorities and NGOs in Paktya, Charikar (Parwan), Ghazni and Daykundi to arrange assistance to drought-affected populations in Paktika, Khost, Parwan, Ghazni, Lal and Daykundi provinces starting in spring.

Deliveries by air will be needed for Paktika province which is not accessible by road because of insurgent activities.

Despite numerous constraints and challenges, during this week WFP distributed 2,800 tonnes of mixed food to 213,000 people through a range of activities including the drought-affected, IDPs, TB patients, school feeding and food-for-work/training participants.

Burundi

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

In response, the country office plans to increase distribution levels up to 10,000 mt in April, May and June – which is expected to be 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.

Worrying trends

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, including cross border movements to Tanzania, making the crisis potentially regional.

Furthermore, admissions to therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres are increasing.

The operation will have a pipeline break as of June. WFP is raising resources through the IRA (Immediate Response Account) and the CERF (Central Revolving Emergency Fund) with the objective to gear up activities as planned until June.

However, additional contributions and new pledges are still needed to cover requirements from July onward.

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 110,000 internally displaced persons ( IDPs) in eastern Chad most of whom are in need of assistance and WFP is increasing planning figures to 110,000 IDPs and host families.

Assessment

A WFP EFSA to assess IDP numbers and requirements for assistance is ongoing in eastern Chad.

To date WFP has provided food assistance to IDPs in Gassire (12,000 people), Am Timan (1,400) and Dogdore (over 18,000 people)

February distributions for the Sudanese refugees have been completed in 10 out of the 12 camps. Distributions in the remaining 2 camps are currently ongoing and should be completed during the week.

Distributions for the Central African Republic (CAR) refugees in the southern camps are still ongoing.

Congo D.R.

The inaugural speech of the newly elected Head of State in Congo D.R. 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.

High transport costs

At present, logistic constraints result in very high transportation costs. Funds continue to be required for the airlift operation to deliver emergency food assistance to various isolated and unreachable parts of the country.

Insecurity mostly in eastern regions remains a major constraint to food security.

With the lull of confrontations in both Ituri district and North Kivu province, recently displaced persons have started to return home.

However, their crops have been looted or burnt by soldiers. In Katanga province, unremitting rains have caused floods and deprived more than 35,500 people from their shelters and crops.

DPRK

The Ministry of Public Health confirmed a measles outbreak on 16 February with about 3,000 reported cases in 30 counties in all of DPRK’s ten provinces (NB. majority of cases occurring between ages of 10 and 40).

The MOPH has requested assistance from WHO and UNICEF and suggested conducting a measles immunisation campaign for 7-45 years old age groups (totalling over 5 million vaccines).

Yellow dust

An emergency CERF allocation of over US$3 million is being considered for UNICEF and WHO.

Weather experts are warning that Korea peninsula may face severe sand storms this spring with the first signs of yellow dust appearing on 14 February, a month earlier than normal.

The dust contains heavy metal and may lead to health problems and may damage farm products. Following a mild winter this year, FAO also predicts pest outbreaks in the Spring and Summer crops.

Ethiopia

The Humanitarian Appeal 2007 for Ethiopia was launched on Monday, 12 February with 1.36 million people requiring relief food assistance, mainly in Somali region.

The government has also decided that the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) will assist those living in PSNP areas that require relief assistance.

This year, food will be provided to people only after a further assessment to determine the duration of assistance.

Improving monitoring

This approach to relief response will require significant strengthening of the monitoring and assessment systems in Ethiopia.

WFP is already in discussion with the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency and partners to provide the necessary support.

Donors and UN agencies have expressed concern over the capacity of the PSNP to expand to meet additional relief needs. The PSNP faces an 110,000 tonnes shortfall in the food requirements for 2007, of which WFP has a 60,000 mt shortfall.

Guinea

The deteriorating living conditions in the Forest Region of Guinea led the population to express their dissatisfaction with the local government.

Demonstrations in N’Zérékoré commenced in October 2006, and continue in the context of the current nationwide strikes. Violent clashes in January, and again since February 10, between local populations and security forces have claimed several lives and wounded many individuals.

Looted

Administrative buildings, including police and gendarmerie stations, have been attacked and private homes looted.

The curfew imposed in application of martial law caused a return to relative calm, but tensions remain high as people await the lifting of the state of emergency on February 23.

Due to the tense security situation, field missions and food dispatches for the canteens and local cooperating partners were suspended for most of January, and again since February 10.

Distributions

Food for the Forest Region’s school canteens has already been pre-positioned; and January, distributions in the refugee camps were ensured by food aid monitors.

WFP managed to carry out February distributions for Ivorian refugees in Kouankan I camp, and for Liberian refugees in Lainé camp

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.

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 carried out again over the Macenta-Guékédou road.

Kenya

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

The three-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.

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 also closed down on 12 February.

Helicopter support

During the course of the operation, WFP provided helicopter logistic support to the government in response to Rift Valley Fever by delivering drugs for livestock vaccination and mosquito nets.

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 tonnes of high energy biscuits and BP5s in country as well as an additional 11 portable warehouses are en route to Dadaab.

Occupied Palestinian Territories

Access to Gaza remains satisfactory and strong efforts are being made on all sides to ensure a range of options for palletised and containerised cargo through parallel Egyptian and Israeli corridors.

Improved travelling conditions

A new passenger terminal has opened in Gaza which will improve the conditions for Palestinian staff travelling between Gaza and Israel.

The UN is awaiting implementation of a key agreement which will allow senior UN national staff to enter Gaza by vehicle.

Sri Lanka

IDPs continue to arrive in Batti district but the Government of Sri Lanka is already planning to re-settle the IDPs within the next three weeks.

Partnership with ICRC to provide rice as part of the IDP food ration in Batti and Trinco have been agreed.

Security concerns

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

Insurgent attacks in Mogadishu increased during the week. Mortar bombs were fired indiscriminately in the Somali capital killing civilians.

In south Somalia, a WFP national staff member was held at gunpoint for a short while before being freed by local militia. Barrage of mortars and rockets were fired by unknown gunmen at Mogadishu international seaport.

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

Recovery

The 2007 findings showed a decline to 230,000 people requiring humanitarian assistance and 360,000 slowly recovering but still require complimentary 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 500,000 people across Somalia with 78,000 mt of food aid until the next harvest in July 2007.

Interagency mission

WFP continues to operate with national staff in most areas of South Central Somalia.

Merka remains off limits for international staff due to security concerns, a situation most likely to change by the end of this month.

WFP Security team together with UNDSS conducted a field security assessment of Buale, Jamame and Kismayo in Juba Valley in anticipation of an interagency mission to the area.

Sudan

In Sudan's Darfur region, February distributions are continuing, despite on-going insecurity. WFP is planning to carry out as many double-distributions as possible in March as part of its preparedness and mitigation strategy.

In January, WFP and cooperating partners provided assistance to 2.4 million beneficiaries including 2.2 million IDPs and vulnerable residents in Darfur.

Almost 158,000 people in Darfur did not receive food assistance in January as insecurity affected humanitarian access to locations in West and South Darfur.

Violent robbery

The majority of those not reached (122,000) were in Gereida camp, south Darfur, where WFP cooperating partner Action Contre La Faim (ACF) decided not to return following a violent robbery in December.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has now taken over food distributions in that camp.

FAO-WFP CFSAM recommends significantly reduced food aid and a phase out of general food assistance in Central and Eastern Sudan in favour of targeted interventions, like school or supplementary feeding.

Three-month food packages

In the Three Areas the focus will be on timely three-month food packages to an estimated 350,000 returnees expected to return to Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in 2007.

UNHCR and WFP signed a Joint Plan of Action for Blue Nile to cover the reintegration of both organised and spontaneous returnees in 2007. WFP is working with World Vision International, SUDO and UNHCR to finalise agreements on food distribution by the end of February.

An outbreak of meningitis in parts of southern Sudan forced the temporary suspension of humanitarian activities last month.

Authorities say a ban on people congregating may soon be lifted. If so, WFP will resume distributions in parts of Northern Bahr El Ghazal in early March.

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