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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Many millions more need food aid in East Africa amid drought: UN

By Chrispinus Omar NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN humanitarian agency said Friday at least 26.5 million people in East Africa are in need of food assistance due to severe drought that is ravaging the region.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest report the number of refugees who have sought protection in the Horn of Africa region has increased by 640,000 people to 4.4 million over the past six months.

OCHA said in its regional outlook for the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region that an additional three million people were internally displaced during the past eight months.

"This is driven by successive episodes of drought and failed harvests, conflict, insecurity and economic shocks affecting the most vulnerable.

"Humanitarian needs are expected to increase in the months ahead," said the report.

The East Africa region has been facing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in its history.

Recent rainfall has been insufficient to compensate for the delayed start of the rainy season, which brought below average levels of precipitation in March and April.

The current drought in the Horn is largely comparable to that of October to November 2010 that peaked in 2011 with grave humanitarian needs.

Extensive growing season failures and record low vegetation are observed across Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia and coastal Kenya.

According to the UN, northern and western Kenya, southwestern Ethiopia and eastern Uganda are also affected, although with more moderate consequences.

Extensive livestock deaths have been reported.

April field reports from Somalia indicate that, due to distress selling and livestock deaths, households in northern and central areas have lost 40 to 60 per cent of their livestock and households in southern regions 20 to 40 percent of their herds, since the Deyr 2016/17 assessment.

The number of people in Integrated Phase Classification Crisis (IPC) phase 3, 4 and 5 has increased significantly to 26.5 million, a 62 percent increase compared to a year ago (16.4 million in May 2016).

In South Sudan, a famine affecting 90,000 people in Unity State was declared in February.

Conditions in South Sudan continue to deteriorate with 5.5 million people expected to be severely food insecure in July, the peak of the lean season.

The report said the situation in Somalia has deteriorated and is of particular concern with 3.2 million people facing Crisis and Emergency levels of food insecurity (up from 2.9 million) and severe drought, rising prices, continued access limitations, and depressed rain forecasts suggest an elevated risk of famine in Somalia in 2017.

The food insecure population in Ethiopia has increased from 5.6 to 7.8 million following a poor start to the rainy season, the UN agency said.

"This number is expected to increase further for the second half of the year.

"In Burundi, 2.6 million people are food insecure, including 700,000 in IPC Emergency Phase 4 and in Kenya 2.6 million are acutely food insecure," it said.

The agency warns that food insecurity is set to worsen due to continued conflict, a possible El-Nino and the Fall Armyworm infestation.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the probability of El-Nino occurring in the autumn is at 50 to 60 percent and is expected to affect Ethiopia, northern Kenya, Somalia, western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and southwestern South Sudan.

"The Fall Armyworm has appeared in western Kenya, southwestern Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda and central and western Uganda. In Uganda, it affects 54 districts, attacking up to 40 percent of maize farms in some areas," the UN said.

According to OCHA, acute malnutrition, especially among refugees and children under five, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers remains a major concern in many parts of South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur, Kordofan region, and Eastern Sudan), northern Kenya and Uganda’s Karamoja region.

Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates in South Sudan are above the 15 percent emergency threshold in seven of the ten states, reaching 33 percent in northern Bahr el-Ghazal.

Meanwhile, the report said 640,000 people have sought protection since the start of 2017, making a total of 4.4 million refugees and asylum seekers in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region.

The majority of the newly displaced are from South Sudan and Burundi, with South Sudan being the fastest growing refugee crisis globally.

Almost 2 million people are internally displaced in South Sudan, and more than 1.9 million South Sudanese have fled the country as refugees and asylum seekers since December 2013.

"This has led to a revision of the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP). Humanitarian partners anticipate 2.13 million South Sudanese refugees by the end of 2017," said the UN agency.

The report said nearly 65,000 Burundians have sought refuge since the start of the year bringing the total number of new refugees to 408,857.

 

             

 

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