Somalia: Famine looms in Somalia, but many ‘hunger hotspots’ are in deep trouble (21.09.2022)

The number of people facing life-threatening levels of hunger worldwide without immediate humanitarian aid, is expected to rise steeply in coming weeks, the UN said on Wednesday, in a new alert about looming famine in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 21, 2022 – In Somalia, “hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under five,” warned the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).“Large-scale deaths from hunger” are increasingly likely in the east African nation, the UN agencies continued, noting that unless “adequate” help arrives, analysts expect that by December, “as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people, will die every day”.

Complex roots

In addition to the emergency already unfolding in Somalia, the UN agencies flagged 18 more deeply concerning “hunger hotspots”, whose problems have been created by conflict, drought, economic uncertainty, the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Humanitarians are particularly worried for Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, where a record 970,000 people “are expected to face catastrophic hunger and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions, if no action is taken”, the UN agencies said.

This is 10 times more than six years ago, when only two countries had populations as badly food insecure, FAO and WFP noted, in a new report.

Urgent humanitarian action is needed and at scale in all of these at-risk countries “to save lives and livelihoods” and prevent famine, the UN agencies insisted.

Harsh winter harvest

According to FAO and WFP, acute food insecurity around the world will worsen from October to January.

In addition to Somalia, they highlighted that the problem was also dire in the wider Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue, pushing people “to the brink of starvation”.

Successive failed rains have destroyed people’s crops and killed their livestock “on which their survival depends”, said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, who warned that “people in the poorest countries” were most at risk from acute food security that was “rising fast and spreading across the world”.

FAO’s QU calls for massive aid scale-up

Vulnerable communities “have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are suffering from the ripple effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency,” the FAO chief continued.

He insisted that “without a massively scaled-up humanitarian response” to sustain agriculture, “the situation will likely worsen in many countries in the coming months”.

Echoing that message, WFP Executive Director David Beasley appealed for immediate action to prevent people dying.

We urgently need to get help to those in grave danger of starvation in Somalia and the world’s other hunger hotspots,” he said.

Perfect storm of problems

This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine,” Mr. Beasley continued.

The famine in 2011 was caused by two consecutive failed rainy seasons as well as conflict. Today we’re staring at a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season that will see drought lasting well into 2023.”

In addition to soaring food prices, those most at risk from acute food insecurity also have “severely limited opportunities” to earn a living because of the pandemic, the WFP chief explained, as relief teams brace for famine in the Somali districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region, come October.

Below the “highest alert” countries – identified as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – the joint FAO-WFP report notes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria are “of very high concern”, in addition to newcomers the Central African Republic and Pakistan.

Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have also been added to the list of hunger hotspot countries, joining Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Barriers to aid

Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods, FAO and WFP insist, while highlighting chronic access problems caused by “insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers” in 11 of the 19 hotspot countries.

This includes “all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation…or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions”, they said.

United Nations – Central Emergency Response Fund (UN – CERF): 18 million people in the Sahel face severe hunger over the next three months (20.05.2022)

World Food Programme: Hunger in West Africa reaches record high in a decade as the region faces an unprecedented crisis exacerbated by Russia-Ukraine conflict (08.04.2022)

Needs are escalating much faster than we are currently able to respond – this in an immensely complex and volatile operational environment.

DAKAR, Senegal, April 8, 2022 – The number of women, men and children affected by a food and nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa is expected to reach a new record high in June 2022 – quadrupling in just three years from 10.7 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2022 – unless appropriate measures are urgently taken, reveals the Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released in March 2022.

Following the high-level conference in Paris on food security and nutrition situation in West Africa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for longer-term political and financial commitments to address the worst food security and nutrition crisis to strike the region in ten years.

“The situation is spiralling out of control. Needs are escalating much faster than we are currently able to respond – this in an immensely complex and volatile operational environment,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa.

“Both governments and partners need a step-change in tackling the underlying drivers of hunger and malnutrition. Bold and rigorous political actions are needed now, including lifting barriers to the regional trade and ensuring the most acute needs are met during a lean season that is projected to be extremely challenging in the region” Nikoi added.

There is a high risk that the food and nutrition crisis will be further aggravated due to persistent insecurity that continues to trigger massive population displacement, the impact of the climate crisis, disrupted food systems, limited food production, barriers to regional trade and the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic which has devastated national economies. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is violently disrupting the global trade of food, fertilisers and oil products, with the already high prices of agricultural products reaching record highs not seen in the region since 2011.

While the increase in staple food prices has been steady in all countries in the region, a staggering 40 percent jump from the 5-year average has been witnessed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – pushing basic meals out of reach for millions of women, men and children.

“This unprecedented food crisis the region is facing offers an opportunity for us to address the root causes of food insecurity in the sub-region by developing food and agricultural systems that are less dependent on external shocks, and a more productive and efficient local agriculture with a particular emphasis on the consumption of local food products” said Dr Gouantoueu Robert Guei, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and FAO representative in Senegal.

The nutritional situation also remains a grave concern in the region, particularly in the Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad where an estimated six million children under five are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022. Nutritional analyses conducted across the Sahel and in Nigeria point to a crisis or emergency situation in several locations in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria.

“Africa has the largest untapped potential of arable land, yet most of these countries import food. Governments need to support long-term agriculture plans for the next generation, including investments in developing agriculture, livestock and fisheries to achieve food security”, said Benoit Thierry, IFAD Regional representative in West Africa.

The March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé projections suggest that in coastal countries, the number of food insecure people has doubled since 2020, rising from 3 million people in the June-August 2020 period to over 6 million in June-August 2022. This includes nearly 110,000 people facing Emergency (Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. The coastal region is likely to experience further increases in food prices and disruptions in the supply of agricultural products (especially fertilizers), due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“Acute food insecurity is no longer restricted to the Sahel; it is expanding into Costal countries. We need to respond in a way that is sustainable, at the right scale, and that tackles the multifaceted socio-political and socio-economic elements of the crises the region faces. This will only be achieved through enhanced collaboration, coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels, and leadership at all levels, including from governments, donors, and UN agencies” Nikoi added.

Sahel: Conférence régionale sur les changements climatiques, la paix et la sécurité en Afrique de l’Ouest et au Sahel (07.04.2022)

Sahel Crisis: 29 million Sahelians need humanitarian assistance and protection (27.04.2021)

Central Sahel: Spike in violence leads to higher deaths, more than 1 million fleeing homes (14.09.2020)

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently allocated an additional 12 million Swiss francs (about $13.2 million) to its operational budget for the Sahel region.

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 14, 2020 – Increasing violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has led to a 62 percent spike in deaths and more than a million[1] people being forced to flee their homes over the last year. This rise in fighting is jeopardizing access to basic services, including health care, and affecting a fragile economy even as COVID-19 poses new threats, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said during a trip to the region.

Civilians are paying the highest price for the surge in violence. More than 4,660 people died in the first six months of 2020, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. The ICRC is extremely concerned about the level of violence and recalls that, under international humanitarian law, the civilian population must be protected and spared.

Climate change effects add a complicating layer to an already dramatic humanitarian situation. Record hot spells and unpredictable weather patterns such as the current floods tend to exacerbate inter-communal tensions and violence.

“The combination of rising violence and deaths, shuttered health care facilities, climate change effects and the COVID-19 pandemic make this a complex and multilayered crisis,” said Mr Maurer, who visited Niger and Burkina Faso over the last week. “People here are facing a battering ram of challenges leading to intense suffering for families.”

Healthcare access is essential amid conflict and during a global pandemic. But in Mali, an estimated 20 percent of health centres are partially damaged or destroyed. In Burkina Faso, 14 percent of health centres are closed or working at limited capacity.

Military confrontations and forced displacements are increasingly limiting access to agricultural fields, depriving households reliant on agriculture of food. Humanitarian access to communities affected by the fighting is becoming more difficult in some areas, exacerbating the vulnerability of those in need.

Given the challenges, the ICRC recently allocated an additional 12 million Swiss francs (about $13.2 million) to its operational budget for the Sahel region. These funds will be dedicated to seeking enhanced protection for civilians, backing the provision of essential services and supporting conflict-affected communities to restore their livelihoods.

“Government budgets are strained globally due to the health and job repercussions of COVID-19, but it’s clear that this region of the world needs assistance to alleviate the crippling consequences of both armed conflict and climate risks,” said Mr Maurer.

Opinion: I been told with time things will be better, but does it?

Well, in troubling times, as things are moving both forward, backward and sideways. It seems that we can defer from enterprising the idea, that everything gets better with time. Surely, this doesn’t mean we as folk doesn’t change, broaden our minds and expand our patterns of thought. No, we might do this, but this doesn’t change the narrative nor the times we are seeing passing by.

We are not a single leaf in the wind. Neither are we a recycled raindrop, awaiting next part of its existence to become evaporated before becoming clouds and be rained down upon us, yet again. Even if life goes in cycle and we as human beings are repeating history, sometimes even without knowing.

The ignorance of out times, as we are silent to the death of immigrants, as we are deaf to the pleas of separated kids in camps in the United States. The silence and lack of outcry, as the US tried to start a war in Iran and tried to enforce an coup d’etat in Venezuela. This is all happening, but no worries. As well, as the European Union have favourable deals with the Libyan, Egyptian and Sudanese Governments to stop immigrants from coming to the shores of Italy, Spain and Greece. That is just we do to each other, instead of giving a helping hand in need, we let people drown with excuses of nationalism, border security and fear of the unknown.

We are living in a time, where there is no problem to silence the media, weaponize social media and misuse state resources to suppress dissidents. This is happening all over, not only in dictatorships, but also in the “free world”. Where leaders are using their means and using their techniques to sophisticated silence and letting the ones defying their stance suffer. There are plenty of journalists in the recent time died by poison, being arrested and tortured. Plenty of opposition leaders in exile and struggling to regain their vitality. That is all happening, but nothing contemplating on the reasons for this.

The weaponization of social media with bots and big media, where the hacking, leaks and misuse of information combined with blind narrow-minded followers, who doesn’t think of the consequences of the acts nor they think of what the message they are spreading. The parties, the leaders are letting their camps all go out into the battlefield. Build their borders filled with landmines, barbed-wire and trenches. In this field, everyone who disagrees is traitors, radicals or even stupid individuals who has no sense. While the bombs, the hypocrites and the vilified commentators should just be blocked or silenced. Because, they are just fake and frauds, while the almighty leader is the ones to listen too.

While this is happening, the wars are steady, they are not stopping. The trade-wars, the Brexit is pumping in its sketchy way. The troubles of Yemen, Syria and Ukraine continues, like wars of old. The slavery trade of Mauritania continues as well as possible slave-ships on the outside of Libya. While, the Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, appeal to the International Community, the Western Sahara is still a punchline for the Pan-African Political Parties, but the world is not caring about the plights of the people there, as long as the big-companies can fish outside the coast there.

The peacekeeping missions are lacking funding, as the missions are staying and lingering, also paying off dictators to send military forces to conflict zones in Sahel, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and so on. The former colonial powers of France, Belgium, United Kingdom and others are still holding their grips of former colonies, as they have new units to treat the new leadership and “open markets” for their products. If they need, they will kiss the rings of dictators and others, to just get the needed resources for a dime.

We are living in fabulous times, we are living times of adventures of freedom, liberty and justice. Where labels of Fairtrade, trade-unions and others are continuing to pushing the envelope, but still not seeing thing true. As the illicit trade practices continues in many markets and by plenty companies, multi-national earning fortunes on their production units paying little or none to its contractors. This wouldn’t been acceptable in the industrialised world, but in the developing world it is dandy. Some in our time, even says these people should be grateful to even have a job. That is how dark our time is.

They says things are getting better with time, are they? There was a promising generation of leaders in the 80s and 90s, but they became alike the former dictators and militaristic regimes of the past. There are little resemblance of the past positive movement. While we are celebrating mediocrity and lacklustre approach to the future problems. We are supposed to be content and think this spoils of our times is good.

While we are not even able to solve the crimes of the 70s and 80s, while struggling with the aftermath of the politics done in the 90s and 00s. We are supposed to be all smiles, as the first decade of this millennium is here. The millennial’s can vote and we are supposed to promise them a greater future. When we are leaving behind the same old issues, with the same old greed and the lack of will to accept the mantle given to us.

Things was supposed to get better time, but apparently they are not. Maybe I am in a dark place today, but I do not see it. Because, we didn’t make it better, we didn’t push it to a greater place, we just let it be and watched a game of football. We didn’t care and didn’t sign up for a party, NGO or even go in a demonstration. We just looked and wonder, when is our turn?

Well, it isn’t given to us, just like the leaders of our day wasn’t given to them either. They fought and took it. If we want change, maybe we need to do the same. Because, things aren’t getting better. I see darkness, I see sinister acts going unpunished and the innocent dying for no fucking reason. Peace.

UNOWAS: Statement by the SRSG Mohamed Ibn Chambas on the eve of Nigerian elections (15.02.2019)

Press release: AU 18th December 2014- Nouakchott Declaration

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