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Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo: Millions at Risk as Funding Dries up (06.12.2017)

With 3.2 million people desperately short of food, WFP has stepped in with emergency assistance.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 6, 2017 – An acute hunger emergency in conflict-ravaged Greater Kasai could turn into a long-term disaster, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. While the agency has been working against the clock to help ever more people, the cash is quickly running out.

“We’re letting down those who need us most,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A tightly planned surge had made a big difference, Jibidar explained, but WFP had largely funded this from its own meagre resources. “Without immediate donor support, many – particularly women and children – will die.”

The eruption of violence in what used to be a poor but peaceful region has claimed countless lives. Some 1.4 million people have been forced from their homes. Traditionally high malnutrition rates have sky-rocketed.

With 3.2 million people desperately short of food, WFP has stepped in with emergency assistance. A lull in fighting has allowed more staff to be deployed. Aid workers have fanned out into the Kasai countryside. WFP has co-ordinated multi-agency logistics and humanitarian flights. As a result, the number of people assisted has grown rapidly – from 42,000 in September to 115,000 in October and 225,000 in November. Last month, 13,500 children were given special fortified foods.

But donors’ reluctance to commit to Kasai is jeopardizing this effort. While WFP plans to feed almost half a million people in December, so depleted are the agency’s coffers that only half-rations can be distributed.

Hunger not only puts lives at risk: it forces people into prostitution and increases the risk of sexual violence, Jibidar stressed. “Government partners must do all in their power to spare Kasai from the kind of decades-long humanitarian catastrophe that has plagued other DRC regions.”

 

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Addressing humanitarian needs, alongside long-term investment in development, vital to tackling Somalia’s fragility (04.12.2017)

In 2017, over $1.2 billion has been mobilized enabling humanitarians to avert a famine but the causes of Somalia’s fragility remain.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, December 4, 2017 – The Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq has welcomed the State of Qatar’s commitment to partner with Somalia amid growing calls for a new approach where sustained humanitarian action is complemented by long-term efforts to build the country’s resilience. Mr. de Clercq was addressing participants at the workshop for Qatar Humanitarian and Development partners on the Somalia Resilience and Recovery Framework held in Mogadishu on 2 December 2017.

Over the past decades Somalia has faced a vicious cycle of recurring droughts and protracted conflict that have led to loss of lives, caused mass displacement, and put the lives of millions of Somalis in peril and dependent on life-saving assistance. Since 2011, with the generous contribution by international partners, approximately USD 4.5 billion has been spent on the emergency response alone. In 2017, over $1.2 billion has been mobilized enabling humanitarians to avert a famine but the causes of Somalia’s fragility remain.

“I am encouraged to see the Government initiating discussions to forge a way forward on how to strengthen the structural resilience of Somalia to prevent future humanitarian disasters that undermine the country’s path to recovery and reconstruction,” said Mr. de Clercq. “Effective and collective drought response has so far prevented famine in 2017, but much more is needed to trigger long-term resilience and development, and protect fragile progress and achievements. We cannot continue to wait until the current crisis is over before we embark on promoting long-term solutions. We can help address the drivers of fragility and insecurity if we collectively act now.”

The Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Gamal M. Hassan, thanked the State of Qatar which recently signed a development agreement with the Federal Government of Somalia worth $200M for infrastructure development including support for education and youth employment initiatives. “The impact of the recurrent climatic shocks continues to disrupt our development vision, hence the need for preventative measures and sustainable solutions that are based on resilience and sustainable development,” Minister Gamal M. Hassan told participants. “In 2018, as part of the Resilience and Recovery Framework, we aim to accelerate collaboration between humanitarian and development partners on the agreed collective outcomes.”

Ambassador Tariq Bin Ali Faraj Al-Ansari, Director of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to work with the Federal Government of Somalia and to align their funding with the National Development Plan priorities. The State of Qatar provides support for humanitarian, resilience and recovery efforts through partners such as the Qatar Charity and the Red Crescent among others, in partnership with the UN and national authorities.

“Qatar’s support to Somalia is anchored on its principled stand on global commitments including the “leave no one behind” vision of the Agenda 2030. We provided US$210 million development assistance to Somalia since 2010. Qatar also signed a $200 million bilateral agreement on 28 November 2017 with the Somali government focusing on job creation, infrastructure, economic empowerment and education, to be implemented in partnership with the United Nations. Regional and global actors need to take a unified and coherent approach when supporting Somalia in order to be effective”, he underscored.

The 2018 Somalia Humanitarian Needs Overview launched in November shows that the unprecedented drought, spanning at least four consecutive poor rainy seasons, has resulted in severe and growing humanitarian needs across Somalia. Limited rain, displacement, lack of access to basic services and continuing conflict continue to drive needs. Some 6.2 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection assistance, 3.1 million of these need urgent life-saving assistance.

Opinion: President Akufo-Addo message on development is what the world needs!

Yesterday, the Ghanian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressed the Press together with the French President Macron. As he did this he asked serious questions about governance and development. Akufo-Addo proved with brilliance what many people are saying about the African continent, but isn’t heard from the people in power. Akufo Addo actually wants like all other sovereign states to be charging his own people for the services they are getting and not handouts from strangers abroad. That isn’t noble, that is Statesmanship and responsibility. As he don’t want aid, but trade. The President wants Ghana to make it on its own and with its own resources, instead of billing the tab from afar.

All nations and all presidents should seek this paradigm. His own words are powerful and it is needed, in times when states are either addicted to aid or borrowing funds at levels that are destroying the economies. These words and shift should be taken by all states who are used to aid. So they can prepare their citizens and their institutions to be built. So that governance and the government can deliver services to their public.

Addressing a press conference with France President Emmanuel Macron during the latter’s one-day working visit to Ghana on Thursday, President Akufo- Addo said African countries cannot continue to make policies based on the support the Western world can give. He said, “Our responsibility to charter a path which is about how we can develop our nations ourselves. It is not right for a country like Ghana, 60-years after independence to still have its health and education budget being financed on the basis of the generosity and charity of European taxpayers” (…) “We need to have a mindset that says we can do it… and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves,” he said. Akufo-Addo said the only way Africa can stop its young men and women from migrating to other countries to seek greener pastures is to put in place systems that work. “We want to have those energies working inside our countries and we are going to have those energies if we begin to build systems that tells the young people of our country that their hopes, the opportunities are right here with us,” he stressed” (…) “Our concern should be with what we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cup-in-hand and begging for aid, for charity and for handouts,” he said” (Ghanaweb, 2017).

I’m European, I don’t care what Macron said or wanted to say after hearing Akufo-Addo speech. It was powerful and needed. The words that is expressed and the needed shift is there. Not that charity or aid should automatically stop. But the world, the leaders and the states themselves. Needs to find their way to sustain and develop mechanism for collecting revenue and also tax properly services. Secondly, needs proper guidelines and institutions to sufficiently create growth and stagger inflation. Combined with investment in not only extraction and producing crops, but also create products with it. So that the state don’t only get the low value export, but get refined and developed products on the world market. That isn’t an easy fix and has been tampered-on ever since independence and the world order hasn’t made it better too.

Initially, the power lays in the hands of the leadership. In the hands of people Akufo-Addo and others. Who can leave behind institutions and markets, that can leave behind educated and industries that brings wealth not only to a chosen few, but to the GDP of their respective nations. While stopping the current fix and re-up of more aid donations and charity from European taxpayers.

I hope that the African leadership are listening to this and actually follows this. To be truly independent. Be developed and generate the wealth the African people deserve and the stability of institutions it also should create to prosper. Maybe, not leadership as western-democracies, but in states and elected leadership that takes responsibility and uses the skills and resources for the benefit of all citizens. Not only for corporate citizens, but all of them. Building states and building democracies where the people and state are working for a common-goal. The betterment and changing today for the future. Not awaiting handouts from Berlin, Paris or London. The Ghanaian republic deserve this, they deserve to handle on their own, all former colonies and former protectorate deserves this. Just like the European republics and kingdoms are responsible for their own finances and economy. They are not awaiting funds from China or US to save them…

The same we should wish to say about African state, who are begging for donors and loans to fill the void of own taxation and revenue. Therefore, the speech from President Akufo-Addo deserves credit, not because he is African and wants to get rid of the hands-out. But because he speaking the truth in general. Every single statesman on planet earth, should work for this goal, no matter which continent and whatever country they are running. It doesn’t matter, all citizens and states should work for this common goal that President Akufo-Addo speaks off. Also, European Nations that are struggling with debt and with deficit like Greece and Italy, should also work for this goal and not be saved by other institutions. This is a world-wide issue, not only on the African continent. Peace.

Reference:

Ghanaweb – ‘Africa must stop depending on foreign aid – Akufo-Addo’ (03.12.2017) link: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Africa-must-stop-depending-on-foreign-aid-Akufo-Addo-606111

Minister Okello Oryem Meets Troika Representatives (17.11.2017)

 

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

KAMPALA, Uganda, November 17, 2017 – On November 15, 2017 the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Henry Oryem Okello met with Representatives of the South Sudan peace-guarantor Troika member countries (Norway, United Kingdom and the United States) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala. The Troika Representatives were Mr. Paul Sutphin (USA), Mr. Chris Trott (UK) and Mr. Ering Skjonsberg (Norway).

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

The members of the Troika reiterated their strong support for the combined efforts of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations to end the conflict in South Sudan, and joined their recent calls on all armed parties, including the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, and other armed groups, to commit to a ceasefire.

They emphasized that the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the direct result of the conflict and called on all parties to cease violence against humanitarian workers and obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

The Troika endorsed the ongoing efforts by IGAD and praised Uganda’s peace initiative which aimed at bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table, positively noting that this initiative was endorsed by both parties to the conflict. The Troika expressed pleasure that Uganda is in full support of the IGAD process. In addition, they endorsed the work of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, and the deployment of its Regional Protection Force.

Hon Okello welcomed the visiting team and stressed the importance of the support being extended towards all the peace initiatives. He reassured them that Uganda will continue playing a mediatory and conciliatory role between the belligerent parties to ensure that an agreement is reached.

In attendance at the meeting were the Heads of Diplomatic Missions of the Troika resident in Kampala and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Harvest season provides meagre respite to South Sudan’s hunger crisis (06.11.2017)

The number of people experiencing severe food insecurity across the country is likely to drop to 4.8 million for October to December, down from six million in June.

JUBA, South Sudan, November 6, 2017 – The current harvest season in South Sudan will not end the hunger crisis as conflict persists in most of the country and hyperinflation puts food out of reach for many, according to the updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) released today by the Government of South Sudan, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme, and other humanitarian partners.

The number of people experiencing severe food insecurity across the country is likely to drop to 4.8 million for October to December, down from six million in June. However, the 4.8 million who are severely food insecure are 1.4 million more than at the same time last year, and much of this growth has been in the Emergency category (step 4 on the IPC’s 5-step scale).

“The harvest season has not brought much relief to the millions of people in South Sudan who don’t have enough food. The country’s greenbelt has been ravaged by fighting, and finding a peaceful solution to this man-made tragedy should be the top priority or the situation will get even worse next year,” said Serge Tissot, FAO’s Representative in South Sudan.

The food security situation is projected to deteriorate at the start of 2018 and the ‘hungry season’ – when households typically run out of food before the next harvest – is forecast to start three months earlier than usual. Many people have few means of coping with the stresses of the lean season, and the situation is forecast to become increasingly fragile.

“A massive humanitarian response helped stop famine in parts of the country this year. But even in the current harvest period, millions of people need sustained assistance to survive,” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative in South Sudan. “It is chilling to see that in a worst-case scenario, similar conditions could appear in multiple places in the lean season in 2018.” 

The teams who conducted the analysis identified two counties, Wau and Ayod, where a total of 25,000 people are facing catastrophic conditions according to the IPC scale. Of greatest concern is Greater Baggari, a sub-area of former Wau, where 10 per cent of the population is facing famine-like conditions because insecurity has heavily constrained livelihood activities and humanitarian assistance.

There is an urgent need for a humanitarian corridor from Wau to Greater Baggari area to allow agencies to provide comprehensive assistance.

Critical levels of malnutrition

Malnutrition has also worsened compared to the same period last year, with surveys showing malnutrition rates in most communities well above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent, and with more than 30 percent of the population malnourished in several counties.

More than 1.1 million children under the age of five are forecast to be malnourished in 2018, including nearly 300,000 severely malnourished and at a heightened risk of death.

“Too many children are going hungry in South Sudan. More than one in five of those struggling to feed themselves is a child under five years of age,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan. “This has created a malnutrition crisis that is putting many lives at risk.”

Food prices soar

Insecurity continues to hamper food production and disrupt markets. Coupled with a failing economy, this has led to extremely high food prices. Large sacks of staples such as sorghum, maize, and wheat flour have increased in price by up to 281% compared to last year, and were as high as 560% during May, the peak of the lean season.

In Juba, a 100kg bag of sorghum costs 11 285 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), compared to 4 314 SSP a year ago, and is vastly beyond what most families can afford.

Nationally, millions of people are surviving on humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, and if security conditions further threaten organizations’ operations the situation will rapidly worsen.

The report warns that continued conflict coupled with further access constraints on aid agencies and economic instability will likely result in the deterioration of already dire conditions in multiple locations across South Sudan in 2018.

Rapid response

Humanitarian teams are facing enormous logistical and security challenges to reach communities in need.

FAO has provided fishing, crop- and vegetable-growing kits to more than 4.2 million people, many in difficult to reach or conflict-affected areas, to support them to grow or catch their own food. FAO has also vaccinated more than 4.8 million livestock, to protect these livelihood assets for vulnerable families.

UNICEF, together with its partners, has treated more than 160,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) so far this year. It has a target for the year of reaching 207,000 malnourished children across the country. As part of its multi-sectoral approach to addressing the issue, UNICEF has also provided over 750,000 people with safe drinking water and a further 230,000 people with access to sanitation facilities.

WFP and its partners have has assisted 4.6 million people in South Sudan so far in 2017 with cash or food, including nutrition support for children under the age of five years. Emergency mobile teams usually travelling by helicopter on over 135 missions to areas isolated by conflict have supported 1.8 million people this year.

UNHCR warns of worsening displacement in Democratic Republic of the Congo (24.10.2017)

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 24, 2017 – This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is increasingly concerned by escalating displacement we are seeing in several key regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2015 the number of people displaced internally has more than doubled and now stands at 3.9 million people – some 428,000 of these having been displaced in the past three months alone. Over the past year, some 100,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fueled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high. The challenges of getting aid to people in need are growing fast.

Tanganyika province

In the eastern province of Tanganyika, where some 584,000 people are internally displaced, intercommunal conflict between the Twa and Luba groups spilled into neighboring Haut-Katanga province earlier this year. Clashes with the army continue and there is wide prevalence of armed militia. Scores of civilians have been forced to flee, and there have been reports of murders, looting and extortion, and torture or other inhumane treatment. With people finding it difficult to sustain their livelihoods, more are becoming dependent on aid.

Refugees crossing from DRC into neighbouring Zambia are hosted temporarily at the Kenani transit center, close to the border. Over 5,400 people are currently staying at the center, receiving assistance from the authorities, UNHCR and partners. As the rainy season has started, it is becoming urgently important to beef up public health, sanitation and water supplies to prevent diseases. Psychosocial support, as well as care for people with specific needs – some 27 per cent of the refugee population – is also urgently required.

North and South Kivu provinces

Further north in the east of DRC, violence involving mostly local armed groups is also plaguing North and South Kivu provinces. In North Kivu alone, over one million people are displaced. In South Kivu, where 545,000 people are internally displaced, the security situation further deteriorated in September as conflicts escalated between militias and the armed forces in the territories of Fizi and Uvira. Fear is widespread, including among the 30,000 Burundian refugees hosted at Lusenda camp in Fizi.

Congolese from North Kivu have mainly been fleeing to Uganda, and those from South Kivu to Tanzania – usually transiting through Burundi to escape attacks in their villages. Currently, Uganda hosts the largest number of DRC refugees, over 236,500 people, mostly in the south-west. In Tanzania, there were 76,890 DRC refugees as of the end of September.

The Kasai region

Meanwhile, in the Kasai region in central-southern DRC, displaced people and refugees who fled the violence that started over a year ago have begun to return. As of 23 October, over 710,000 people had gone back. Many are finding their property in ruins and family members killed. At present the situation in the Kasai region is far from stable and humanitarian access has only just become possible in many areas.

In total, over 762,000 people are displaced in the Kasai region. In Angola’s Lunda Norte province an additional 27,555 Congolese who have fled the Kasai conflict are being assisted by UNHCR and partners.

UNHCR is coordinating protection activities for the displaced from the Kasai conflict, returnees and other vulnerable civilians. We have also distributed basic relief items and are preparing additional support, particularly for the communities where returns take place.

In light of the situations in these three regions, UNHCR and partners have recently upgraded the situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo to level 3 – the highest level of emergency. UNHCR, as part of this response, will be fulfilling its responsibilities focusing on protection and assistance of the displaced populations, including through leadership of the Protection cluster.

Refugees

In all, there are today some 621,711 refugees from the DRC in more than eleven African countries. And funding is urgently needed. Of some US$236.2 million required for the needs of refugees, IDPs and other people of concern in the DRC, only US$49.7 million has been received so far – a fifth of the amount required.

At the same time, the number of refugees from neighboring countries seeking refuge inside Democratic Republic of the Congo has grown by a third since early 2016 and now stands at 526,000 people. We continue to see new arrivals from Burundi, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

CAO Lorwor of Katakwi Letter to Action Aid: “Re: Request for Support for Independence Celebrations” (17.10.2017)

USA: “Puerto Rico governor sends letter to Congress asking for additional financial assistance following “unprecedented catastrophe” (07.10.2017)

South Sudan: ICRC condems killing of staff member (09.09.2017)

South Sudan: “Why a technocratic transitional government in South Sudan” – Dr. Lam Akol

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