Somalia + 3 more

Horn of Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 2 February

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SOMALIA: Famine alert in Bakol region
The food security situation in the southern Bakol region is rapidly deteriorating, the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) warned last week. FSAU, funded by the EC and FAO, carried out a rapid assessment in the region last month along with USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS). Poor deyr season rainfall over large areas of the Bakol region had led to extreme crop losses almost everywhere, representing the seventh consecutive poor harvest in the area. FSAU and FEWS both confirmed reports of recent food-related human deaths. Deteriorating food security conditions across the border in Ethiopia were making the outlook for Bakol even bleaker, FSAU stressed. Some 70 percent of people were in need of assistance and many agro-pastoralists in the Hudur, Wajid and Rab-Dure districts had left their villages in search of help. "Visible signs of starvation are already seen throughout the Bakol region," FSAU said. "Malnutrition is widespread and increasing." The resumption of food deliveries to the region was urgently needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, it pointed out.

SOMALIA: Food convoy destined for Bakol ambushed

A food convoy destined for the southern region of Bakol was ambushed and one of the vehicles hit a landmine over the weekend, resulting in a number of deaths. The 15-truck convoy, delivering food donated by CARE-International, was under heavily-armed protection when militiamen ambushed it south of Mogadishu. After the ambush, the convoy took a different route but one of the trucks hit an anti-tank mine, with more loss of life. According to a BBC report, a total of least 20 people are believed to have been killed including militiamen security personnel and civilians caught in crossfire.

SOMALIA: RRA reportedly takes territory in Shebeellaha Hoose

Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) militia forces have reportedly captured territory in the southern Shabeellaha Hoose region, according to the 'Xog-Ogaal' newspaper on Monday. The report said the forces took a number of villages, killing at least four people. "This is the first time the RRA has captured territory in the Shabeellaha Hoose region," the paper said. "There are fears that this action might create tension in the region."

ETHIOPIA: UN appeals for assistance

The UN Country Team (UNCT) last week launched an appeal for US $190 million to help over 8 million Ethiopians and about 250,000 refugees in the country. Included in the appeal are requests for assistance for 7,732,335 victims of natural disaster and 349,837 internally displaced people. Representatives of the UNCT told a news conference in Addis Ababa that current conditions in Ethiopia gave great cause for concern. "In many respects, the relief operation in 1999 only succeeded in meeting some of the most acute needs," the UNCT said. "If adequate assistance is slow in arriving, the crisis will not only return, but will be much larger in magnitude and severity, and certainly more costly and difficult to mitigate." The appeal lists a number of priority interventions in food assistance, health, water, sanitation, nutrition, education, special protection needs and agriculture.

Earlier, the government's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) also appealed for about 899,000 mt of food to assist over 8 million people. It attributed the requirement to natural factors (mainly lack of rain) and man-made (the conflict with Eritrea), WFP reported.

ERITREA: Growing need for shelter

In an update on the situation in Eritrea, the umbrella group Action for Churches Together (ACT), has warned of a growing need for shelter due to displacement and the deportation of Eritreans from Ethiopia. Lack of rain in Anseba and the northern Gash-Barka regions had caused crop failure and exposed hundreds of thousands of people to hunger and food insecurity. The Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) has appealed for assistance, and due to uncertainty over the war has made contingency plans for the potential displacement of people living close to the border areas. "A minimum of 70,000 people who are immediately at risk of being displaced in the event of an escalation of the fighting are considered for food and shelter assistance," ACT said.

DJIBOUTI: Drought situation "increasingly desperate" - WFP

WFP has responded to a deteriorating drought situation in Djibouti by approving a US $2.7 million emergency operation to provide food assistance to 100,000 people affected, the agency announced last week. "Drought symptoms are clearly evident in all areas of the country," said Sanda Maina, WFP Country Representative in Djibouti, in a press statement. "Little rain has left watering holes at dangerously low levels and livestock has died either because there is a lack of pasture land or because it's drastically deteriorating ... The influx of nomadic families into the city shows their growing desperation." "In the districts of Ali' Sabieh and Dikhil, the situation is made even more difficult by the presence of displaced people from Somalia and Ethiopia," he added. WFP said its emergency operation would involve distributing 6,000 mt of food aid between now and the middle of June through the government's Office for Assistance to Refugees and Disaster Victims.

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