• Millions of people are at increased risk of famine or catastrophe in South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. FEWSnet, an international early warning system, stated that South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia could be looking at famine or catastrophic levels of food insecurity in various parts of their countries in the new year due to climate change, conflict and political instability.
• Children are the worst hit, with their health and development drastically impacted. Already, too many children are going hungry. More than 15 million children in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia are struggling to have enough to eat. 5.5 million children in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia are projected to be malnourished. Already, more than 1 million children under age 5 are expected to be severely malnourished and at risk of death by the end of 2017 without urgent action.
• Increased hunger will drive ever younger girls into early marriage, and force children out of school, into child labour and into other dangerous ways of surviving.
• Children are on the move. The hunger crisis is exacerbated by drought, conflict and political instability and is forcing people to flee areas affected by conflict, where children are at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. 4 million people in South Sudan have been displaced, both as refugees and internally. In Somalia, 1.9 million have been displaced, both as refugees and within the country; in Ethiopia, more than 1 million have been displaced internally.
• Large-scale, long-term lifesaving assistance is needed to avoid spikes in malnutrition and death. World Vision is appealing for an additional $70 million to increase its response across South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Humanitarian Situation Overview
South Sudan: The head of the UNHCR has said South Sudan’s long-running conflict has reached “epic proportions” with the number of refugees set to rise beyond 3 million by the end of this year, potentially making it Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the mid-1990s. The UNHCR head launched a $3.2 billion appeal for 2018 to help those forced to flee their homes. The UNHCR said there are nearly 2.5 million South Sudanese who have already fled the country, and around seven million need humanitarian assistance within South Sudan.
• Somalia: The drought situation in Somalia still persists with below normal rainfall being recorded across Somalia. However, food security improved slightly due to the continued large-scale humanitarian assistance and the short-term impact of the Deyr rains. The number in need of humanitarian assistance and protection has reduced from 6.7 million in October 2017 to 5.4 million in December 2017 according to FSNAU – FEWSNET seasonal assessment report.
• Ethiopia: New numbers from the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix compiled in November 2017 indicates that around 1 million people have been displaced due to conflict along the Oromia-Somali regional border. Previously, in September, the government stated 700,000 people had fled their homes.
• Kenya: In five of the 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties, the drought trend is improving while the trend is stable in nine other counties . Areas of the country are still struggling in the aftermath of the 2017 challenges where Kenya faced multiple humanitarian challenges which included severe drought, disease outbreaks, refugee influx, flash flooding, industrial strikes by health workers, resource-based conflict and elections-related insecurity.