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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid