Rome, 27 June 2007 - In regions wracked by violence or submerged by floods, the first emergency is how to deliver enough food as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are some of the crises counted among WFP's "global hotspots".
Food movements from Quetta in Pakistan through Spinboldak to the southwest and west of Afghanistan along the southern ring road remain suspended due to continued insecurity and ongoing military operations. WFP's Hirat Area Office has not received any food since late May.
Insecurity also continues to hamper WFP operations in other parts of the country. Wheat distribution in Ghazni province, planned for school children in drought-affected areas, has been suspended for several weeks due to continuous fighting between Taliban and Afghan forces. 16,000 children in 28 schools have been affected. In the same areas, nearly 5,000 families participating in food for work (FFW) have not received their monthly rations as they cannot travel to district centres due to insecurity.
WFP staff continue to travel to these areas and explore alternative distribution modalities with community and local government authorities.
Over 120,000 Afghans have been deported from Iran to Afghanistan through the Islam Qala and Zaranj border points since 21 April. About 60 to 80 families are coming to Farah province each day. WFP has to date provided 200 mt of food to these deportees and will continue to assist 1,200 families through FFW projects in the coming weeks with an additional 280 mt of mixed food.
Over the past week, WFP-contracted trucks en route to Chad were temporarily blocked in Ngueli, a border area between Chad and Cameroon, following a five day strike launched by Chadian transporters. The latter are protesting against a decision preventing heavy trucks from circulating in N'Djamena.
About 30,000 internally displaced schoolchildren have seen a disruption in the 2006-07 school year. WFP is working with UNICEF and government authorities to explore an emergency school feeding activity from October 2007 to June 2008. This intervention will require 1,000 metric tons (mt) of food which would be resourced from a budget revision of the WFP emergency operation.
A budget revision to the Emergency Operation (EMOP) is underway to reflect the needs of 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), 230,000 Sudanese refugees and 30,000 IDP schoolchildren. WFP is requesting an additional 37,000 mt through June 2008.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
WFP's Country Office (CO) will use the Institut National des Statistiques (INS) for the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis surveys, which will start next week in North and South Kivu.
WFP cooperating partner Orphans Development Programme International (ODPI) in Katanga Province reported the looting of 13 metric tons (mt) of food aid. The incident occurred on 5 June in a village located 15 kilometres from Pweto (Tanganyika district); the looters were apparently beneficiaries. An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances and reasons for the looting.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
WFP welcomed the announcement of a critically needed contribution worth US$20 million by the Republic of Korea (RoK) to WFP's food assistance to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), where a lack of funds has already forced the organisation to cut back feeding programmes for schools and for at-risk infants and small children.
The contribution will cover most of WFP's remaining operational needs under its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) scheduled to end in May 2008.
The contribution, a mix of commodities, comes in the middle of the "lean season" when household food stocks traditionally run low and at a time when WFP has been forced to suspend school feeding for the month of June for 400,000 North Korean children in 29 underserved, food-insecure counties.
It will allow WFP to resume food assistance for children, pregnant women and families in food-insecure areas. WFP also hopes it will help it to reach more than double the number of present beneficiaries, from 700,000 to 1.9 million, in all 50 counties where the DPRK authorities have agreed to WFP food distributions.
WFP will start planning with the Government the scale up strategy to accommodate the RoK contribution. PRRO food distributions should expand form 29 to 50 countries and form 700,000 beneficiaries to 1.9 million. The Country Office's logistic and monitoring activities will need to be expanded accordingly.
Recent results of nutritional screening under the Targeted Supplementary Food (TSF) programme show a higher number of malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women than expected.
The screening, conducted during the lean season, indicates an increased number of rural households facing stress in meeting their food needs. This raises planned TSF requirements for 2007 from the annual estimate of 53,500 metric tons (mt) to 64,500 mt.
WFP's capacity to respond is under tremendous strain due to severe funding shortfalls in the TSF programme and a pipeline break as WFP waits for local processors to fill FAMIX orders. Immediate solutions (such as borrowing from the Government's stocks) are being considered with partners in order to meet immediate needs.
WFP's Ethiopia Urban HIV/AIDS project has imposed a temporary freeze on new beneficiaries entering the system until a large contribution to the project is confirmed. The freeze is accompanied by active application of the graduation strategy aimed at reducing the current caseload to those most in need of nutritional support. It is hoped that the freeze can be lifted in the final quarter of 2007.
Close to 2,150 newly arrived Somali refugees will be relocated by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Teferiber camp in the Somali region as soon as the setup of camp facilities is completed. WFP will erect movable warehouses for the food to be distributed to refugees.
The government tender for 120,000 mt of cereal to meet food needs in the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) is likely to be successful. WFP's Procurement Unit has advised the Government to accept only 80,000 mt and re-tender for the balance next month, as speculative bids are evident.
Owing to the tender, prices of maize in Addis Ababa have risen from about US$155 to US$190 in the last 2 weeks. WFP will revise downwards its annual cereal requirements for the PSNP from 165,000 mt to 130,000 mt; this will be funded by USAID.
The Government completed a temporary bridge at Kainuk along the Kapenguria-Lodwar road in Turkana South District. Vehicles started crossing on 21 June.
This is the key route to northwest Kenya for deliveries of food and non-food items to WFP's operations (school feeding and the emergency operation) and to Sudan (via Lokichoggio), as well as the refugee operation in Kakuma.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and NGO partners, such as World Vision, Samaritan Purse and Merlin, are rolling out supplementary feeding programmes in Turkana. Turkana is one of the districts with persistent emergency levels of global acute malnutrition.
Preparations are underway in other districts to carry out screening of vulnerable groups, to establish the numbers of children under five and nursing or pregnant women. The programme is expected to be implemented mainly through health centres, but also through NGOs, especially where there is insufficient health infrastructure coverage.
Although four new cholera cases were reported in Dadaab, the situation seems to be improving, with no new deaths being reported. Most public places and slaughterhouses have also been cleared to resume operations. WFP continued to provide high-energy biscuits to schoolchildren.
The Kenya-Somalia border remained closed; 5,727 people have sought asylum in Dadaab since 3 January, up from 5,145 reported last week.
occupied Palestinian territories (oPt)
While the delivery of food and essential supplies into Gaza has become problematic, all parties are working to find solutions to ensure humanitarian needs can be met.
Karni (the main commercial terminal) closed on 12 June (it remains closed) and from 12-18 June there was no channel for goods to enter Gaza. However WFP successfully managed to secure agreement with all parties to deliver food through Karem Shalom crossing (in the South of the Gaza Strip).
From 19-24 June, WFP moved 647 metric tons (mt) of food through this crossing over four days (16 percent of the monthly needs of 4,100 mt).
WFP is working on another complementary channel, Sufa, which will enable the organisation to send larger amounts of food into Gaza (over 20 trucks per day). In summary, despite numerous challenges, WFP has managed to establish a strong pipeline and is keeping up the pace on deliveries.
In addition to the deliveries and using pre-positioned stocks, WFP has also managed to distribute 1,916 mt of food (47 percent of the monthly allocation) in the past week.
WFP needs a total of 10,000 mt of food per month to cover the West Bank and Gaza Strip operations until the end of the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) on 31 August 2007. Some 41 percent of the total tonnage is for Gaza. From 1 September 2007, the tonnage requirement will reduce to around 7,000 mt per month.
WFP increased the Gaza caseload over the past two weeks, in response to the growing needs, and is now feeding sick and injured in 10 hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip.
WFP continues to work with the original partners (including the Ministries of Agriculture and Social Affairs).
The security situation remains extremely volatile with continuing incidences of suicide bombings and tension among clans, mainly in the south.
Two police stations were attacked on 20 June in Mogadishu, with at least two people killed, while Ethiopian troops killed five people after a roadside bomb hit an Ethiopian truck. A nightly curfew was imposed in the capital.
Despite intense negotiation with the Kenyan authorities, trucks have not yet been allowed to cross into Somalia. The Kenya and Somalia Country Offices (CO), the Regional Bureau (RB) and WFP Headquarters in Rome, Italy, are exploring options to resolve the issue on all fronts.
If the issue is not resolved soon, WFP Somalia may consider airlifting food.
The Food Security Analysis Unit for Somalia (FAO/FSAU), together with FEWS NET Somalia, issued a press release on 15 June highlighting the deteriorating food security and nutrition situation among riverine and agro-pastoral households in Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.
The May 2007 nutrition assessments indicate acute malnutrition rates above the emergency threshold (GAM) of 15 percent and extremely high rates of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) of 4.9 percent. As a result, WFP Somalia is revising its projection to accommodate regions with poor harvest and high malnutrition rates which are not yet part of the planning.
WFP will also start using high energy biscuits for children under 5 in the affected areas.
FAO/FSAU announced last week potential crop failure in the riverine areas of South Somalia, which will lead to an increase in the number of people under humanitarian emergency from 350,000 to 550,000 in South Central Somalia.
Local NGOs raised concerns about flooding in Jilib, particularly near the Sanderai zone canal and the Osman Motto canal. During the last floods, some 100,000 people required WFP assistance in the area.
After three months of negotiation, UN agencies received permission from the Ministry of Defence to transport the combined monthly requirement of June quota only to the Vanni. This will allow all agencies to resume a more operational mode and facilitate staff security.
Shipping of commodities to Jaffna is still a constraint. 800 metric tons (mt) of commodities are awaiting loading in Colombo for shipping before 24 June.
500 mt of WFP flour has arrived by sea. 120,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and economically affected people will receive two weeks of rations of cereals and sugar. Dispatch of wheat flour and sugar to distribution outlets commenced on 14 June.
WFP offices at Vanni only have current food stocks of 150 mt (compared to a monthly requirement of 2,762 mt). Delivery of locally procured rice should start next week.
In May, WFP assisted 3.2 million people in Sudan with food. The number of people not reached rose from a monthly average of 50,000 to 110,000 due to insecurity.
Approximately 300-400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Deleij camp in Nyala demonstrated in front of WFP and HAC offices, protesting that almost 1,000 households have not received food assistance. The Government promised to provide some immediate food and the crowd dispersed without any security incidents.
A joint WFP/World Vision assessment team visited Dereij IDP camp to reassess the IDP numbers.
An estimated 2,400 people are expected to return by barge to the south by mid-July with the suspension of land convoys due to impassable roads with the ongoing rainy season. WFP is assisting the first of group 600 returnees who left Khartoum last week by barge via Kosti, White Nile State, heading to Bor and Rumbek in South Sudan.
As part of the organised return programme, returnees are provided with transit food rations and a three-month re-settlement food package upon arrival at places of origin.
WFP has resumed food distributions to 8,000 returnees in Malual location, North Bahr El Ghazal State, following an improvement in the security situation. Increased armed tension early June led to a UNDSS re-classification of the area to level 4 (No Go) from level 2 (Permissive).
The joint FAO and WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) finding's estimate that at peak 4.1 million people in rural and urban areas will need food assistance; requiring approximately 442,000 metric tons (mt) of food of which 352,000 mt would comprise of cereals.
Just over one 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 its intention to import 500,000 mt of maize; 400,000 mt from Malawi, of which the first consignments totalling 69,500 mt have been dispatched and 100,000 mt from Zambia reportedly in-country.
WFP is still awaiting an official position from the Government of Zimbabwe on the CFSAM findings to formalise an appeal. Recent meetings report that the Government is still reviewing the report.
The data collection for the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee - Nutrition and Food Security Assessment - is expected to conclude 27 June. The assessment will help to further pinpoint district level food insecurity.
WFP and its cooperating partners are working together to fine tune the beneficiary targeting and selection criteria for the upcoming Vulnerable Group Feeding.
(ISDN line available)