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 Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora