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 As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.