United Nations says 29 million in Horn of Africa need food aid

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The UN humanitarian agency said Friday that at least 29 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region are in need of food aid.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Eastern Africa said this represented an 18-percent increase of food insecure population compared to the same period last year.

“The region is seeing some short-term improvements following seasonal harvests particularly in the northern sector of the GHA due to above-normal rainfall conditions,” OCHA said in its Food & Nutrition Security Situation for November.

However, it said food security is expected to deteriorate in areas affected by insecurity, including Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Burundi, and areas affected by below-average rain and consecutive poor seasons.

The report said conflicts in Somalia and South Sudan are among the greatest drivers of humanitarian needs, fueling new displacement within countries and across borders.

At the same time, the impact of El Nino-triggered droughts, floods and extreme weather is pushing vulnerable communities to the brink of survival.

The UN said dryer than average conditions persisted in most areas of the equatorial sector of the GHA until September, resulting into pockets of crop failures, deterioration of pasture and browse conditions and depletion of water resources within most agricultural, pastoral and agro-pastoral communities.

“In addition, the October-December rainfall signi­ficantly delayed and is anticipated to perform poorly consistent with the outlook leading to poor prospects for agricultural production,” OCHA said.

The UN said the refugee movements have continued due to continued insecurity, compounded with food insecurity and a deterioration of the nutrition situation, in particular to South Sudan.
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EARLIER REPORT:

More than 3.6 million people displaced by Lake Chad Basin crisis: report

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) — Boko Haram’s insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin has resulted in the displacement of some 3.6 million people since 2009, of whom more than 2.6 million have yet to return home after being displaced, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Friday.

“Humanitarian actors continue to witness widespread suffering that calls for the provision of urgent assistance,” IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Richard Danziger, said in a statement.

“The joint efforts of the authorities, humanitarian partners and donors remain vital to ensure that the basic needs of populations affected by the violence are met,” he added.

Most of those forced to flee their homes (82 percent) are currently located in Nigeria, with the remaining 9 percent displaced in Cameroon, 6 percent in Niger and 3 percent in Chad.

According to IOM, 93 percent of those currently affected by conflict are displaced within their own countries, with the remaining 7 percent forced to cross international borders to seek safety in neighbouring states.

Affecting disproportionately the young, figures show that estimated 62 percent of the displaced are children under the age of 18.

The extremist group Boko Haram has since 2009 waged a campaign of violence in Nigeria in an effort to establish an Islamic state.

It has killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds more, with surrounding countries including Niger, Chad and Cameroon also affected.
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Civil conflicts, unpredictable weather blamed for poor food insecurity in 2016

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) — Civil conflict and weather-related shocks have severely stressed food security in 2016, increasing the number of countries in need of food assistance, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report issued Thursday.

The new edition of the Crop Prospects and Food Situation report highlighted 39 countries that are in need of external assistance for food.

While the outlook for global cereal supplies is improving due to generally favourable growing conditions for crops, the legacy of recent droughts persists, as do the negative effects of a spate of conflicts.

Agricultural forecasts suggest robust grain harvests are on the horizon, but hunger will likely intensify in some regions during the lean seasons before the new crops have matured.

In Southern Africa, where El Nino effects sharply curtailed food production in 2016, the number of people requiring outside assistance from January through March 2017 is expected to significantly increase compared to the same period a year ago.

Child stunting rates are “significantly high” in the most troubled areas, notably Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique, the report noted.

In some regions, inadequate stocks of cereal and legume seeds due to two consecutive poor harvests may limit plantings. FAO and governments are implementing agricultural support programmes to improve access to key farming inputs.

To facilitate humanitarian response planning, the report identified the primary causes of local food crises.

These range from exceptional shortfall in food production and widespread lack of access—due to low incomes, high prices or disrupted distribution networks—to the impact of conflicts on local food security conditions.

Civil conflicts and their consequences, including refugee movements that are burdening host countries such as Cameroon and Chad, are cited in 21 of the 39 countries.

Widespread conflict can lead to the loss and depletion of households’ productive assets, as in the Central African Republic, and to security concerns that hinder farming activities, as in South Sudan.

In parts of South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, improved harvests are likely to have only a short-lived effect as ongoing conflict has reduced the ability to engage in agriculture, posing extra risks for the most vulnerable communities.

Continuing civil conflict in Syria has led to 9.4 million people requiring food assistance.

This year’s wheat production is estimated to be around 55 percent below its pre-crisis level.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has likely increased the number of food-insecure people from the 14.2 million people assessed in June, the report said.

The recent escalation of conflict in Iraq is triggering a widespread internal displacement.

Acute food insecurity affects more than 8 million people in Afghanistan and their numbers are likely to increase with the return of around 600,000 refugees from Pakistan before the end of 2016.

The number of food insecure people in Nigeria is above 8 million and is projected to increase to 11 million by August 2017.

The ongoing conflict in northern states curtailed plantings, while the sharp depreciation of the Naira currency has raised domestic food prices and affected regional trade as more Nigerian cereals are exported while fewer livestock are imported.

Droughts and weather effects linked to El Nino triggered significant crop shortfalls in 2016 in several countries.

Africa’s aggregate cereal production declined in 2016 despite some sub-regional gains, notably in West Africa and the Sahel region, which is on track for a record cereal production. Maize output in Southern Africa decreased sharply, severely stressing food security conditions.

Poor harvests triggered sharply higher prices for staple maize in Malawi, where 6.5 million people are expected to be food insecure during the upcoming lean period.

On a positive note, with El Nino over, preliminary estimates point to a 27 percent increase in maize plantings for South Africa’s 2017 crop, by far the region’s largest producer.

While much of Asia benefited from robust food production in 2016, led by a sharp recovery in India, the impact of long-running conflicts in several Near Eastern countries continues to severely depress agricultural production despite generally beneficial weather conditions for staple grain crops.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, expectations of a production rebound in Central America in 2016 are welcome, following the drought-affected outputs in the previous year, while the 2017 planting season in South America is off to a favourable start after a reduced 2016 crop mostly due to droughts in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay.

The 39 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe, the report added.
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About 535 million children world-wide live in conflict or disaster-stricken countries

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) — An estimated 535 million children—nearly one in four—live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, often without access to medical care, quality education, proper nutrition and protection, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said here Friday.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly three-quarters, or 393 million, of the global number of children living in countries affected by emergencies, followed by the Middle East and North Africa where 12 percent of these children reside, the UN agency said in a press release.

The new figures are released as UNICEF will on Dec. 11 mark 70 years of relentless work in the world’s toughest places to bring life-saving aid, long-term support, and hope to children whose lives and futures are threatened by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.

“UNICEF was established to bring help and hope to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict and deprivation, and this enormous figure—representing the individual lives of half a billion children—is a sharp reminder that our mission is becoming more urgent every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

The impact of conflict, natural disasters and climate change is forcing children to flee their homes, trapping them behind conflict lines, and putting them at risk of disease, violence and exploitation.

• Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted—more than half of them driven from their homes by conflicts.

• As violence continues to escalate across Syria, the number of children living under siege has doubled in less than one year. Nearly 500,000 children now live in 16 besieged areas across the country, almost completely cut off from sustained humanitarian aid and basic services.

• In northeastern Nigeria, nearly 1.8 million people are displaced, almost 1 million of them are children.

• In Afghanistan, nearly half of primary-aged children are out of school.

• In Yemen, nearly 10 million children are affected by the conflict.

• In South Sudan, 59 percent of primary-aged children are out of school and 1 in 3 schools is closed in conflict affected areas.

• More than two months after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, more than 90,000 children under five remain in need of assistance.

The emergencies faced today by the most vulnerable children threaten to undermine immense progress made in recent decades:

Since 1990, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday halved and hundreds of millions of children have been lifted out of poverty.

Out-of-school rates among primary-school-aged children have reduced by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2014.

Despite significant progress, too many children are being left behind because of their gender, race, religion, ethnic group or disability; because they live in poverty or in hard-to-reach communities; or simply because they are children.

“Whether children live in a country in conflict or a country in peace, their development is critical not only to their individual futures but also to the future of their societies,” said Lake.

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