S. Sudan: Extreme hunger looms on the horizon, UN rings alarm bells

Extreme hunger looms on the horizon, OCHA warns |Photo: © OCHA
Extreme hunger looms on the horizon, OCHA warns |Photo: © OCHA

In a new report released today, the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has predicted that more than 8.3 million people are expected to face extreme food insecurity in the next few months.

“Some 8.3 million people in South Sudan are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021, including 310,000 refugees and asylum seekers. This is an increase from the 7.5 million people in need in 2020,” the UN agency said in its report seen by Thessherald.

The United Nations blames the rising level of food insecurity on the armed conflict and global climate change that continues to plunder the entire world.

“Humanitarian needs in South Sudan are mainly driven by the impacts of years of conflict and exacerbated by the impact of climate change,” the report said, adding that “Hunger is growing, with more than 7.2 million people projected to be severely food insecure during 2021, and with some communities facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.”

“COVID-19 has had a devastating and multi-faceted socioeconomic impact on people, including severe economic contractions, spikes in prices of basic commodities, loss of livelihoods particularly in urban areas, increased protection risks, and disrupted access to basic services.”

“The already serious humanitarian situation has been compounded by severe flooding, affecting approximately 1 million people each year in 2019 and 2020. The South Sudanese people also continue to be highly vulnerable to epidemic diseases, due to low immunization coverage, a weak health system and poor hygiene and sanitation. Conflict, insecurity and natural disasters have displaced nearly 4 million people since 2013.”

UN to deliver humanitarian aid to IDPs displaced in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

Google map features Tigray region |Photo: G-Earth
Google map features Tigray region |Photo: G-Earth

Nov 9, 2020 (Thessherald)–The United Nations and its partners are stepping up humanitarian aid efforts to help Tigrayan communities displaced by six days of aerial bombardment launched by the Ethiopian federal forces in the Tigray region.

“The UN and its partner organizations are committed to staying and delivering humanitarian assistance to the more than 2 million people who need some type of assistance in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – these people include internally displaced people and refugees, ” the UN Office said on Monday.

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The United Nations noted that preparations are underway to relocate UN staff to safer places as the country teeters on the brink of deadly civil war.

“Discussions are underway on the relocation of all non-essential UN staff and on gaining humanitarian access. In addition to the population in Tigray, there are about 9 million people who live in close proximity to Tigray’s regional and national boundaries and are exposed to the risk of conflict,” the statement added.

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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs decried the current situation in the Tigray region where more than 6,000 people are reported to have been affected by COVID-19.

“OCHA and partner organizations are finalizing a humanitarian response plan for the Tigray region.”

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PM Abiy turns down IGAD’s offer to mediate peace in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a New Peace Prize laureate, has rejected the IGAD’s offer to broker peace between the federal government and the TPLF – a former ruling party – currently fighting the National Defense Forces in the Tigray region.

Today, Abiy downplayed the intensity of the military operations in his country, saying that it will not escalate into a civil war.

“Concerns that Ethiopia will descend into chaos are unfounded and a result of not understanding our context deeply,” he tweeted on Monday. “Our rule of law operation is aimed at guaranteeing peace and stability.”

UN strongly condemns attacks on aid workers in Renk, calls for investigation

October 23, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for South Sudan, Mohamed Ag Ayoya, has issued a statement condemning an incident in which non-resident humanitarian workers were attacked and their assets looted in Renk, Upper Nile State.

On 12 October, the Renk Youth Association demanded that humanitarian organizations re-assigned jobs from current staff from certain backgrounds to local people.

When the demands were not met, the youth then insisted that all humanitarian activities be suspended and aid workers leave Renk immediately without their assets.

Following an increase in threats against humanitarians and attacks against office, accommodation and warehouse locations, almost 30 aid workers have relocated to the closest UN Mission in South Sudan base for their safety.

“Humanitarian workers are in Upper Nile to deliver life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people, including women, children and older persons. Intimidating them and forcing humanitarian activities to suspend result in delays of this much-needed assistance to the most vulnerable people, and is unacceptable,” Mr. Ayoya said.

He acknowledged the constructive role played by the national authorities, who have advocated for the immediate institution of safety for humanitarian workers and resumption of their programmes.