News / Africa

    Aid Groups Tackle 'Mammoth Challenge' of Feeding South Sudan

    Internally displaced people carry water from outside as they walk toward the entrance of a United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan base in Malakal, Feb. 6, 2014.
    Internally displaced people carry water from outside as they walk toward the entrance of a United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan base in Malakal, Feb. 6, 2014.
    Andrew Green
    Aid agencies are battling against time and danger to their staff on the ground in South Sudan to deliver emergency food aid to millions of people in need around the young country as it struggles to recover from weeks of violence, officials said Monday.

    Deputy Country Director for the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) Eddie Rowe told VOA that at least 3.7 million people are in urgent  need of food assistance in South Sudan, but relief has been delayed, largely because WFP does not have guaranteed safe access to all areas of the country.

    “The roads are not safe -- a lot of checkpoints," Rowe said.

    "Our transporters are being harassed, looted. The trucks are being looted. We do not have adequate partnership to engage with in providing these types of assistance. It is a mammoth challenge," he said.

    The safety problems mean the WFP expects to reach fewer than 10 of 22 sites in Jonglei state, where 70 percent of the population of 1.7 million is "under acute and emergency food insecurity," according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    Most food-insecure people in South Sudan -- 90 percent -- are concentrated in three states that were hard hit by the fighting that broke out in mid-December -- Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.

    WFP warehouses in all three states were looted during the conflict, making the task of getting vital food assistance to those in need even more difficult, Rowe said.

    "Not even our office is functional. We have to start from there, because that’s where we could deploy our staff. But more importantly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to move food to some of these locations where you have displacement, or even communities that are trapped that cannot move out,” he said.

    Some 1,700 metric tons of food – enough to feed 102,000 people for a month – were looted from WFP's two warehouses in the Upper Nile state capital of Malakal during the course of the conflict, the aid agency says on its website.

    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    x
    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    WFP warehouses and offices have also been "cleaned out" in Jonglei and Unity states, it says.


    "We’ve lost three major offices, each the size of a small country office,” Tommy Thompson, WFP’s emergency director in Juba, says on the website.

    The loss of food stocks, offices, computers and other assets is "seriously complicating WFP’s response," Thompson said.

    Further complicating the distribution of emergency food rations is the race to have  supplies on the ground in areas that need aid before the rainy season starts, which is usually next month or April, at the latest.

    Once the rains begin, many parts of the country will become inaccessible, aid groups say.

    U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative Sue Lautze said last week that “South Sudan was already the scene of one of the world’s largest humanitarian operations before the fighting began, and the situation is now deteriorating rapidly.”

    “Markets have collapsed, infrastructure is damaged, foreign traders have fled, commodity supply corridors have been disrupted by violence, and rural populations are unable to bring their crops, livestock and fish to market for sale,” she said.

    Mireille George, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Minkamen, said aid agencies were only able to deliver half-rations in January to the estimated 90,000 displaced who have sought shelter in the village on the White Nile in Lakes state.

    "It’s been difficult for them... They have received half-rations for January. They have been sharing. It was not enough for sure,” she said.

    People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, stand by their belongings after arriving in the port of Minkaman, in Awerial county, Lakes state, in South Sudan, Jan. 14, 2014.People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, stand by their belongings after arriving in the port of Minkaman, in Awerial county, Lakes state, in South Sudan, Jan. 14, 2014.
    x
    People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, stand by their belongings after arriving in the port of Minkaman, in Awerial county, Lakes state, in South Sudan, Jan. 14, 2014.
    People displaced by the fighting in Bor county, stand by their belongings after arriving in the port of Minkaman, in Awerial county, Lakes state, in South Sudan, Jan. 14, 2014.
    But, she added, thanks to a convoy route that the ICRC has set up, the situation is improving in Minkamen, and the ICRC expects to be able in the coming days to provide a full month’s worth of food to the tens of thousands of displaced living in the makeshift camp.

    For South Sudan as a whole, Rowe said, the short-term outlook is "fairly gloomy."

    Even the limited stocks of food  that households were able  to secure during the conflict are likely to run out in April or May, he said.

    If insecurity causes farmers to miss the planting season, which starts next month, the country's acute food crisis could turn into a long-term problem, said the FAO's Dominique Burgeon.

    “Missing the main planting season will have serious knock-on effects on food production and availability in the country in 2014 and on into 2015,” said Burgeon, the director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, who recently visited South Sudan.

    “At the moment, supply corridors have been disrupted or completely shut down in many areas of the country, and farmers need urgent assistance to access vital agricultural inputs in time,” he said.

    Aid agencies had, as of last week, provided emergency food assistance to fewer than half the 738,000 people internally displaced in South Sudan, a report by OCHA said.

    Over the course of the year, seven million people in South Sudan, or around two-thirds of the population, are expected to face "some risk of food insecurity," according to OCHA, FAO and the WFP.

    A map by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showing the number and percentages of South Sudanese facing severe, acute food insecurity as of the end of January 2014.
    A map by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showing the number and percentages of South Sudanese facing severe, acute food insecurity as of the end of January 2014.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora