Afghanistan + 11 more

Hunger's global hotspots 01 Jun 2007

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Introduction

Hungry people across the globe in desperate situations are reliant on WFP food. Here are this week's global hotspots.

Afghanistan

After a five truck convoy was attacked on May 24 and some 60 mt of food looted in Bala Murghab district of Badghis province, a police-escorted, 12 vehicle convoy was attacked on May 28 in Bakwa district of Farah province.

The attempt to loot the cargo resulted in the killing of two police escorts.

In yet another incident, this time in the southern province of Kandahar, a truck loaded with 40 mt of food was diverted and food looted.

Deterioration in Security

Increased attacks on the main highway from Spin Boldak to Herat province, via Kandahar, is impeding food deliveries to the west and southwest where most UN road missions have already been suspended.

It is also feared that the deterioration in security in Kunduz Province, experienced during the past few weeks, will affect food deliveries to the north and northeast.

In some areas transporters are increasingly reluctant to carry food to insecure locations.

Floods

For the past two weeks some 800 mt of wheat intended for distribution to school children in Andar and Gairo districts of Ghazni province has been held up owing to insecurity.

Emergency food assistance cannot reach many of the flood-affected in the northern region, particularly in Sifatdara and Kazdeh villages of Warduj district in Badakhshan province, which are inaccessible although considered the most affected by the recent floods.

Many places in the north are cut-off from Faizabad centre where WFP has its warehouses.

Rehabilitation

Forty-five km of the only road that connects Faizabad to several areas have been destroyed by the recent floods. WFP will support with food for work the rehabilitation of these 45 km.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Reconstruction Team's helicopters are needed to conduct further assessments and carry food to some of the areas that are inaccessible by road.

Chad

The overall security situation is relatively calm throughout the country.

However, following the attack on WFP staff members in the town of Iriba, it was decided to limit humanitarian activities to essential only until security conditions have improved.

WFP Chad is building up a stock of over 30,000 mt of various food commodities in the east before the rainy season to cover refugees and internally displaced person (IDP) food distributions.

Procurement and transportation

The transportation of 6,300 mt of food commodities, which were borrowed from WFP Sudan for eastern Chad, is ongoing. As of 02 June, approximately 2,800 mt had crossed the Chadian border.

WFP Chad procured 6,000 mt of food commodities in Cameroon to ensure that food would be available before the rainy season.

As of 31 May, a total of 1,200 mt of niebe and sorghum are en route to Abeche.

WFP Chad is preparing a budget revision for the EMOP to accommodate additional requirements for the increased caseload of 140,000 IDPs.

Congo DR

A crisis is looming for internally displaced persons (IDPs) 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 an additional 360,000 IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Harassment

The cycle of violence increasingly constrains WFP food aid operations in the area. Incidents of administrative and judicial harassments continue to be reported.

Administrative harassment is due to underpayment of the majority of state officials and government soldiers; judicial harassment results from the lack of awareness by judicial authorities of the various international laws and agreements governing WFP's relationship with the DRC Government.

A pipeline break is anticipated in the middle of the year. Although the food pipeline is currently healthy, it is likely to be distributed faster due to increasing needs.

Costs

The CO anticipates that as early as July, some commodities such as cereals, pulses and oil may be required.

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

At present, logistics constraints result in very high transportation costs, of which airlift operations make up a large proportion.

WFP will need additional pledges for the period beginning this month to ensure a steady flow of assistance for the next project, starting in July 2007.

For 2007, WFP estimates that 89,965 mt of food aid is needed to feed over 1.5 million people. Most of the targeted people are displaced persons in eastern DRC.

DPRK

In June, due to serious resource shortfalls, WFP will not be able to provide full rations to 400,000 of its 700,000 beneficiaries.

This will include 150,000 school children who will go without biscuits.

WFP's food supplies are progressively being depleted over the coming months, this same time corresponding to the "lean season" that will be particularly harsh and difficult this year.

Since the beginning of the year, only 50,000 mt of food imports/food aid have entered the country, sufficient to cover 5 percent for the annual food deficit of 1 million mt.

WFP is operating in 30 counties and reaching just 3 percent of the population due to limited funding.

Ethiopia

An Immediate Response Account (IRA) loan of US$6.6 million for the Targeted Supplementary Feeding (TSF) component of PRRO 10362 will prevent a pipeline break from July 2007.

Tenders for the locally-produced FAMIX, a fortified blended food, have been launched.

In Somali region, insecurity has increased in Warder Zone, especially Danot district.

UN Department for Safety and Security has advised that only essential humanitarian operations continue in Degehabur, Fik and Warder zones of Somali region for the time being.

Surveys

Results of nutritional surveys carried out in Afder zone of Somali region by Save the Children USA indicate that the nutritional situation is serious in the agro-pastoral communities of Dolo Ado and Dolo Bay districts with 22.5 percent Global Acute Malnutrition.

No relief allocations have been made for Somali region since January 2007.

The Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) is considering food assistance following a verification assessment that found 500,000 people facing chronic food deficits.

Unusual distress migration has been observed in some areas of zones 1 and 5 of Afar Region, attributed to poor rains. As these areas are under the Government's Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), the CO is following up closely with both the Food Security Coordination Bureau and the DPPA to provide assistance.

Food security conditions are deteriorating in areas of East and West Hararge in Oromiya region and in Sidama zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

These areas rely on the mid-year harvest (belg) in July to maintain food consumption to the end of the year. Malnutrition rates typically rise in these highly food-insecure areas just before the harvest.

Kenya

The seasonal long rains have created some minor road accessibility problems.

The Garsen-Hola corridor, a critical route for WFP operations to the northeast of the country, was temporarily affected.

Trucks plying the route were held up for one week causing delays in deliveries to Wajir, El Wak and Mandera.

Rains and flooding

Whereas some areas in Ijara and Tana River are experiencing access problems due to heavy rains, the long rainy season has so far been poor in other parts of the arid and semi-arid districts.

This raises concern on the performance of crops which contribute some 30 percent to the annual grains output in these areas. Surface water sources (earth dams and pans) have not been filled.

In other parts of the country (western and coast) heavy rainfall has resulted in localised flooding and displacement of families.

The rainy season, generally tailed off at the end of May in most parts of the country, and a comprehensive analysis of the performance of the season will be available shortly.

Cholera outbreak

WFP's school feeding programme in Dadaab camps remained temporarily suspended due to the continued outbreak of cholera in the camps and the recommendation by the Kenyan Director of Medical Services that all public eating places and slaughter houses be closed.

To date, more than 227 cholera cases have been confirmed in the three camps.

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 4,510 Somalis, up from 4,020 two weeks ago, have so far sought asylum since the border was officially closed in early Jan 2007.

Lesotho

Preparations of the successor PRRO and the extension of the development project are underway. Both projects are being drafted to cover the period 2008 - 2010.

Initial submission of first draft to ODJ has been delayed towards late June 2007.

The CO held discussions with C-SAFE and government counterparts regarding possible response options to the drought-affected population and regions in the country, and to ensure a well coordinate response.

Drought response

In addition to ongoing PRRO recovery activities beneficiaries of 67,000, the CO plans to assist an additional 200,000 people affected by the drought from August 2007 to April 2008.

The drought response interventions will be phased in stages, commencing with 60,000 people in August 07, 133,000 in October 07 and 200,000 in January 08.

The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) is due to release its findings in the near future but it is clear that Lesotho's main 2007 cereal harvest was severely affected by one of the worst droughts in 30 years - and that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people will be in need of assistance until the next main harvest in April 08.

Situation bad

A preliminary report from the CFSAM team indicated that: the general situation is bad; maize crops have been significantly affected; and livelihoods would be significantly affected due to less agricultural labour, less income and rising prices.

A preliminary government-led crop assessment estimated that national cereal production in 2007 would be 30-40 percent less than last agricultural year and well below the past 5-years average.

The report claimed that the worst affected areas are the southern and western lowlands and foothills and the Senqu River Valley.

Decrease in agriculture

Lesotho's agricultural production has been decreasing for the past few years due to a combination of factors including adverse weather, less family farm labour (largely due to the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS - 3rd highest rate in the world), over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, severe soil erosion, and lack of sustainable land management practices.

WFP is currently trying to assist 130,000 beneficiaries per month.

Occupied Palestinian territories

Whilst people are currently able to move around to access work and markets, small arms proliferation is rising and inter-factional tensions are growing.

WFP has continued distributions and activities as normal and is up to date with distributions (which had been delayed in Gaza City during the fighting in previous weeks).

A statement was issued by the Islamic Swords of Justice over the weekend threatening to kill uncovered women broadcasting on Palestinian TV. This is extremely worrying as it has an impact on any uncovered women with public exposure in Gaza.

Concerning development

In a concerning development, in the second attack in two weeks, a barrage of mortars hit Erez crossing (the main crossing point to Gaza).

This is the sole crossing point for UN staff between Gaza and Israel and delays are common.

Staff can spend anything between 40 minutes and several hours in and around the terminal waiting to enter Israel from Gaza exposing them to a high risk. In fact two WFP staff spent three hours there earlier this week.

In the past week Karni crossing was functioning regularly. WFP sent 50 containers in the past week (in and out of Gaza) which is in line with the agreement with the Israeli authorities.

Somalia

Several security incidents occurred during the week. On 30 May, unknown gunmen killed a former Somalia CID officer at Huriwa, in Mogadishu; a top Somali security officer was also killed on the same day in Hamar Weyne neighbourhood; four civilians were shot dead and dozens wounded by the Ethiopian troops when their military convoy hit a landmine in Baled Weyn, 330km north of Mogadishu.

At least seven people were killed and dozens wounded on 3 June after a suicide car bomb was detonated at the entrance of Somalia Prime Minister's home in Mogadishu. The PM was not hurt.

The port of Kismayo was closed on 30 May due to a riot by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) militia manning the port over unpaid salaries. It was reopened 48 hours later. WFP contracted vessel (MV Miltzow) had completed discharge and left the port on May 28 before the closure.

Flights resumed

UNCAS has resumed flights into Buale airstrip following suspension last week due to the security threat posed by a dispute over payments between an UNCAS contractor and the local guards he hired.

Flights into Galkayo remained suspended; WFP has sent a letter to the authorities in an effort towards resolving the issue.

MV Victoria, which recently repulsed a pirate attack near Merka, is currently loading 1,200 mt of WFP food in Mombasa for delivery to Merka, Mogadishu.

Heavy rains in the coastal areas in Kenya have impeded overland transport up to the Somalia border. Heavy rains in Mombasa are also causing delays for loading vessels and trucks.

On 30 May, the TFG Interior Minister announced a possible postponement of the much awaited Somalia national reconciliation conference for the third time. Insufficient funding is cited as reason for contemplating the postponement.

Sri Lanka

Two bomb blasts attributed to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Colombo have injured 48 and killed 8 people over the last week.

The Forward Defence Line (FDL) separating the Government-controlled area from the LTTE-controlled Vanni was closed for about 10 days due to heavy firing from both sides near to it.

The International Red Cross and Crescent (ICRC) halted its monitoring of this border crossing area at Omanthai due to this heavy firing and to the fact that an ICRC vehicle was shot at by the LTTE.

Erosion of security

The Omanthai crossing has been reopened on 30 May. However the crossing will now only be open three days a week. Along with the lack of fuel, this puts a strain on staff living and working in the Vanni. The reduction in days of operation is a further erosion of the security environment for Vanni based staff.

All programmes in Jaffna district remain disrupted as no food is reaching this isolated area. The Government has still not managed to arrange a vessel to transport WFP food and the Essential Services Commission and Security Forces are not willing to facilitate food to Jaffna and fuel to the Vanni.

The number of IDPs in Batticaloa will be further reduced this week as the second batch of IDPs returns to West Batticaloa.

While WFP was not requested by the Government to provide food to the returnees initially, WFP is now trying to mobilise the resources to respond to the food needs of returnees to West Batticaloa in the near future.

ICRC has started distributing 750 mt rice for IDPs and returnees this week. WFP is experiencing pipeline breaks for sugar, pulses and oil.

Sudan

In April, WFP assisted 2.6 million beneficiaries in Sudan, including 2.1 million beneficiaries in Darfur alone, with more than 32,000 mt of food.

There has been an increase in targeted attacks aimed at the humanitarian community in the Darfur region.

On 4 June, two WFP vehicles were hijacked in El Geneina-West Darfur, during a joint assessment mission with cooperating partners.

The three WFP and three NGO staff members involved were released unharmed. WFP has had six carjackings in the last six weeks. Three of the vehicles were recovered, of which two are write-offs.

Tribal conflict

Continuing tribal conflict in Maper and Gar areas of Lakes State (South Sudan) is hindering access to these locations. While WFP is implementing projects in these areas, travel has been temporarily suspended until the security situation improves, implying suspended food distributions to some 3,700 people.

WFP and UNHCR met to discuss the vulnerability criteria for targeting food assistance to the most vulnerable households out of 85,000 refugees currently in camps in eastern Sudan.

As per the 2006 Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) which recommended a move to targeted versus blanket food distributions, steps are being taken by the Commission on Refugees, UNHCR and WFP to target about 43 percent of the refugees who have a poor food consumption pattern.

Zimbabwe

The joint FAO and WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) findings confirm the need for another year of substantial food assistance programme in Zimbabwe.

The report has confirmed virtually total crop failure in the many of the southern districts. Provinces of particular concern are Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland.

The CFSAM findings estimate that at peak 4.1 million people in rural and urban areas will need food assistance with approximately 442,000 mt of food of which 352,000 mt would comprise of cereals.

Cereal production

National cereal production in 2007 is estimated to be 44 percent less than last year's government estimate. Harvest estimates amount to 799,000 mt of maize and 126,000 mt of small grains.

Just over 1 million mt of cereals will need to be imported. Despite a foreign exchange shortage, the report anticipates 639,000 mt can be met through government imports and 61,000 via informal trade, leaving a cereal gap of 352,000 mt.

The government has announced intention to import 400,000 mt of maize from Malawi of which the first consignments have already arrived.

A Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee -Nutrition and Food Security Assessment is planned for mid-June, which will help to further pinpoint district level food insecurity.

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