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Hunger's global hotspots 9th 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

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

The conflict has since escalated and affected more districts in Helmand Province.

During the week past (23 February – 1 March), the Provincial Disaster Management Committee (PDMC) submitted a list of 3,200 families displaced from Kajaki and Sangin Districts due to the ongoing Afghan/International military operations in the area.

Food dispatch

Upon request from UN agencies, and in close consultation with the provincial Department of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (DRRD) and the Department of Refugees and Returnees (DORR), a survey is being undertaken by a national NGO to verify the data.

WFP is prepared to immediately dispatch food to the displaced families once the numbers are verified.

There is a concern that the number of IDPs is expected to rise as insurgency activities increase in the coming spring.

Disruption

Logistical constraints due to insecurity continue to disrupt food dispatches in many parts of the country, particularly in the southern provinces.

In the Ghor and Bagdhis provinces, the arrival of food from Kandahar to Hirat has been delayed.

During February, only 25 percent of planned commodities were dispatched to the region (1,259 mt out of 5,000 mt planned).

The road insecurity not only has hindered the dispatch of commodities to districts, but has inflated transport rates as transporters are less willing to operate in these insecure areas.

In many parts of the country roads are still impassable due to the heavy snowfall and bad road conditions. It is expected that by the end of April these areas will again become accessible.

Burundi

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

Interrupted talks on the way forward between the parties under the Cease Fire Agreement dated 7 September 2006, started on February.

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

Heavy flooding

Floods and torrential rains have partly destroyed the late 2006/early 2007 harvests, leaving up to two million people in need of food assistance in April, May and June.

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.

hese also include cross border movements to Tanzania, making the crisis potentially regional. Furthermore, admissions to therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres are increasing.

Seeds Protection campaign

In response, WFP will increase distribution levels up to 10,000 mt 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 metric tons of food.

So far some 74, 000 people have received WFP rations around 330 mt. of food have been distributed.

Chad

The security situation in eastern Chad is still volatile and fragile. Inter-ethnic tensions continue and an increase in crime has been reported.

WFP is currently putting together a response strategy for internally displaced persons (IDPs) following recommendations from the emergency food security assessment (EFSA), which was completed last week.

Some 105,000 IDPs will be receiving monthly food rations of 500 g per day for six months (Mar-Aug 2007).

Immediate assistance

WFP has also made 90 days food rations available to the ICRC to provide immediate assistance to about 30,000 IDPs in Ade, Kerfi, Marena and Tiero.

Preparations are under way to start the March general food distributions for refugees in Chad.

This week, WFP is planning to provide some 224,700 Sudanese refugees with over 3,700 mt of food and 28,589 refugees from the Central African Republic with 273 mt of food.

DPRK

After their first talks in seven months, the Inter-Korean discussions concluded on March 2 in Pyongyang with a joint statement agreeing to restart reunions for families split since the division of the Korean Peninsula; officials said a video-link meeting would take place this month, followed by face-to-face reunions in May.

But there was no immediate resumption of deliveries of humanitarian food aid for which the North had been pressing. South Korea suspended its annual food aid after North Korea test-fired several missiles in July.

Breakthrough

Further to last month’s breakthrough at the Six Party Talks, some of the five working group proceedings will start next week, notably in New York on Monday (USA-DPRK WG) and Hanoi (JAPAN-DPRK WG). Six party Talks are scheduled to resume on 19 March.

A high-level European Troika delegation will travel to DPRK on 6-8 March. A high-level Australian delegation (AusAID and Foreign Affairs Department) will also visit DPRK form 11-15 March.

UN IAEA Director General is scheduled to visit DPRK on 13-14 March. It is anticipated that around 15 IAEA inspectors will be deployed to DPRK following his visit.

Critical shortages of wheat, pulses and dried skimmed milk (DSM) are already affecting the operation, including a temporary removal of DSM from some fortified foods that provide nutritional sustenance to infants in orphanages and kindergartens

Ethiopia

As the Government will only provide relief assistance based on case-by-case rapid assessments, anticipated relief distributions in January were halted except in Somali region where distribution of the December allocation was still on-going.

WFP is participating in a Government methodology taskforce and developing a needs assessment capacity strengthening strategy.

WFP and donors to the government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) are working to consider contingency plans for Oromiya region where the PSNP is expected to expand to meet a large amount of relief needs.

Response

The ability of the PSNP to respond to these needs is in question.

A mission from PDPE looking at food markets and cereal price inflation in Ethiopia met with representatives of the IMF, World Bank and IFPRI.

With PDPE and ODK support WFP will be a pro-active participant in market analysis undertaken by these partners in order to better understand the role of cash and food transfers in Ethiopia.

Guinea

Guinea is emerging from the recent crisis. President Conte nominated Lansana Kouyaté as new Prime Minister and the unions called for a suspension of the strike.

While the unanswered claims by Guinea’s military remain a potential source for tension, people returned to work and businesses reopened.

Field missions and food dispatches for canteens and local cooperating partners have been suspended for most of this year.

Refugees

However, food for the forest region’s school canteens has already been prepositioned, and both January and February distributions in the refugee camps were ensured.

Field movements are not yet authorised and project monitoring and follow-up missions remain on hold. Conakry’s port reopened but remains congested.

Vessels carrying food for the relief operation have been 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.

Wounded

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.

Kenya

Preliminary consultations with the just-concluded food security assessment teams indicate that the main food security indicators have improved considerably in many districts.

As a result, it is expected that the WFP emergency operation will reduce the number of beneficiary numbers significantly starting mid-March.

The teams are currently finalizing the report, which should be ready in the next two weeks.

Nearly all the 24 districts have completed their February food distributions under the emergency operation (EMOP).

The next distributions could take several weeks to commence as the Government still has to communicate the assessment results to all districts, NGO partners prepare new budgets (6-month) and targeting of beneficiaries is revised based on new recommended caseload.

Mozambique

According to the Government, the floods, cyclone and drought that have plagued Mozambique have destroyed 277,000 hectares of crops and affected nearly 1.1 million people.

Around 750,000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance in these three areas, including 285,000 people in the flooded Zambezi River basin, 183,000 affected by cyclone Favio and 280,000 in the drought-ravaged south.

While the GoM report states that 750,000 people are in need of food assistance, WFP is not currently assisting the drought-affected caseload nor has it been asked by the GoM to do so.

Cyclone

However, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) has requested WFP assistance food assistance for three months for the 285,000 people who are estimated to have lost their annual maize crops in the floods.

WFP has begun distributing food aid to people affected by the cyclone, while scaling up aid operations for the floods.

WFP distributed over 80 mt of food aid to 11,700 people in the cyclone affected areas in the first four days of the operation.

Flood victims

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners have so far provided 520 metric tons of food rations to 95,000 people in flood accommodation centres in the provinces of Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia.

WFP is drastically increasing its logistics capacity in Caia by bringing in additional helicopters, boats and trucks.

A Humanitarian Country Team rapid-response CERF request was approved in late Feb. WFP’s air ops and augmented logistics operation were fully funded but the CERF secretariat only agreed to provide 50 percent of the requested funds for food aid.

Food shortfalls prompted a reduction of regular PRRO HIV/AIDS and food-for-assets activities for the first quarter, resulting in the reduction of 10,000 beneficiaries and 34 field level agreements with community-based partners.

Occupied Palestinian Territories

There is a military incursion ongoing in the Old City of Nablus, which is one of the most food insecure areas of the West Bank, with 37 percent of the population food insecure and 11 percent vulnerable to food insecurity.

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 and has pre-positioned (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. Internal violence is brewing again in Gaza, with renewed clashes over the weekend.

Somalia

The security situation in Mogadishu continues to deteriorate with fresh casualties reported daily from series of attacks.

Insurgents have now added new tactic of assassinations against supporters of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops.

Six assassinations and one failed attempt were reported during the week.

Somalis continue to flee Mogadishu to towns in Middle Shabelle region due to insecurity. WFP and OCHA will conduct an assessment to determine the number and situation of IDPs in the region.

Hijacking

MV Rozen, a WFP-contracted vessel, was hijacked off the coast of northeastern Somalia, near Bargal in Puntland on 25 February 2007.

The pirates hold 12 crewmembers captive. The ship had just delivered 1,800 tons of WFP food aid in Berbera and in Bossaso and was sailing empty back to Mombassa when it was hijacked.

Piracy has made Somalia's coastline one of the most dangerous in the world, in 2005 WFP had to temporarily suspend food aid deliveries by sea into Somalia following an increase in piracy.

Vessel threat

WFP is in close contact with Somalia's TFG, the Puntland authorities, and vessel's agents, to ensure the release of the vessel and the crew

Motako, the shipping company that owns MV Rozen is now hesitant to dispatch any of its ships to Somali waters.

The hijack is now affecting the availability of vessels for WFP operation in Somalia.

Tension

Dispute over the local administration installed by the TFG in Buale, Middle Juba has caused tension in the area.

International staffs of World Vision, WFP implementing partner, were temporarily relocated from the area last week due to the tension.

Movement of UN international staff continues to be restricted in most areas of south and central Somalia except Wajid and Baidoa

Sudan

Insecurity, mainly resulting from fighting between Government factions and inter-tribal clashes, remained high in the troubled Darfur where there has been a notable increase of vehicle hijacking across the region, mainly affecting relief agencies and the African Union.

Cooperating partner Solidarités has temporarily suspended their activities including food distributions in Muhajeryia of South Darfur, given the escalating insecurity and looting of two vehicles in February alone.

The violence also continues to spill over into neighbouring Chad and Central African Republic, resulting in new displacements and increased need to assist refugees on both sides of the borders.

IDP surge

An influx of IDPs was reported in the northern corridor of West Darfur where verification and assessments are being conducted in several villages.

There were also reports of displacement of people in the thousands in East Jebel Marra.

In March, WFP is planning to carry out as many double-distributions as possible as part of its preparedness and mitigation strategy.

Pre-positioning

WFP has already pre-positioned at least two months of food in the three Darfur states as part of a wider strategy for operating under unpredictable security conditions.

Organised return of southern IDPs from Khartoum continued throughout February with eight convoys departing for South Kordofan and Unity states.

WFP and cooperating partners provide transit rations for the journey and additional three-month rations upon arrival to support resettlement.

In 2007, WFP plans to assist more than 700,000 returnees. Repatriation of refugees from Bonga in Ethiopia to Chalie in Southern Blue Nile has resumed after UNMAO declared the road safe to travel.

The first convoy in 2007 departed Bonga camp on 26 February.

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