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Regional Humanitarian Update Mar 2007: Vol 1, Issue 1

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CROSS BORDER & REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Emergency Relief Coordinator visits Sudan-Chad-CAR

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Mr. John Holmes, said he was "struck by the magnitude of the humanitarian challenge" in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic. During his eleven-day mission, which began on 20 March three weeks after he officially took up the position, the ERC met with senior government officials, representatives of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and civil society organisations in the three countries. The ERC also visited refugee camps and IDP settlements. As a result of his visit, the Government of Sudan re-affirmed its commitment to the continued support, protection and facilitation of all humanitarian operations in Darfur (further details on page 4 and 5).

In Chad the ERC called on the Government to step up its efforts to increase protection for the more than 400,000 displaced people and refugees in the country, while in CAR, the ERC announced that OCHA will soon establish a presence in the affected areas of the North. At the close of his mission, the ERC said that he was struck by "the problems [in the region which] are exacerbated by Darfur, but not caused by Darfur" and that "beyond the immediate humanitarian action, the international community must help find a solid political solution for the region. We need to address all the problems in the region in an integrated way because they all spill over into each other."

Climate Outlook in the Greater Horn of Africa

The Food Security Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSAU) recent forecasts warn that the Horn of Africa region may again be facing heavy, steady rains and possible flooding from April to June 2007. The reports indicate an increased likelihood of near-normal to above normal rainfall over the coastal areas of Tanzania, Kenya and Southern Somalia.

As reported by OCHA Somalia, the Flood Working Group has been reactivated in Nairobi in anticipation of the upcoming Gu rains and potential flooding in Somalia. UN agencies and local and international NGOs have mapped river embankment breakages as an early warning indicator, while monies from the Humanitarian Response Fund have been made available for river embankment repair projects and community-based early warning mechanisms. Reports detailing response activities by cluster in Somalia (Who does What Where) can be obtained from the OCHA Somalia website at http://ochaonline.un.org/somalia

Awareness campaigns by the Meteorological departments, targeting the riverine communities around the flood-prone areas in Kenya and around Wabe-Shebelle, Weyib and Fafen rivers in Ethiopia have also been initiated.

At the same time, other areas in Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia, eastern and southern Ethiopia, eastern Uganda and southern Burundi, are expected to experience near-normal to below normal rainfall for the period of March to May 2007. The Kenyan Meteorological department has warned that rainfall is likely to be poorly distributed in some parts of eastern, northern and southern Kenya. This could aggravate food insecurity and water scarcity in these areas in 2007. http://www.fsausomali.org

Displacement into Darfur from Eastern Chad

Chadians fleeing insecurity in the east of the country continue to seek refuge in Darfur. According to UNHCR, operations are ongoing to move about 700 Chadian refugees living in the border villages to the new Um Shalaya camp, 60 kilometers southeast of the West Darfur capital El-Geneina where assistance can be provided. These represent a fraction of an estimated 20,000 Chadians who have been forced to flee to Darfur since 2005.

Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Somalia, Ethiopia

According to WHO, a total of 5,602 cases of clinically diagnosed Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) including 251 related deaths were reported from six regions in Central and South Somalia, between 30 December 2006 and 10 March 2007. The outbreaks have been linked to lack of access to safe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation practises. The most affected districts are Kismayo, Mogadishu, Merca in Lower Shabelle and Jalalaqsi in Hiraan. In Merca, the presence of a high number of IDPs has placed additional strain on the limited sanitation resources.

According to OCHA Ethiopia, AWD cases have further been reported in Afar, Gambella, Oromiya and Ogaden regions in Ethiopia. www.ocha-eth.org.

Voluntary repatriation to South Sudan and Burundi

Organized voluntary repatriation of refugees from Ethiopia, Central African Republic (CAR), Kenya and Uganda into South Sudan continued amid fears that tribal clashes, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) movements, land mines and cattle raids may slow down the process, according to UN humanitarian sources. In one week (ending 11 March) 234 people were voluntarily repatriated from CAR, 141 from Kenya and 597 from Uganda. The process is still ongoing. 323 people returned from Ethiopia by land on 10 March but the operation was halted pending mine clearance of the roads.

In March, Burundi continued to register returnees. Since the beginning of 2007, 2,649 people have returned to Burundi.

More than 150,000 Burundian refugees are still living in camps in western Tanzania, and approximately 200,000 Burundians who fled the country in 1972 still live in old settlements.

Burundians expelled from Tanzania

The Government Project for the Reintegration of Waraffected Persons (PARESI) continues to register expelled Burundians from Tanzania. Since January 2007, PARESI has registered 839 persons. UNHCR, WFP and the Burundian Red Cross are providing food and non-food items. UNHCR is providing financial support for the transfer of the expellees to their areas of origin. http://ochaonline.un.org/Burundi

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.