Category Archives: Central Africa

UN warns of famine in Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria

Al Jazeera

UN demands action as famine looms in three countries

Call for action comes day after aid agency and government officials declared famine in parts of South Sudan.

21 Feb 2017 07:55 GMT

Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war [AP/Kate Holt]
Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war [AP/Kate Holt]

Almost 1.4 million children suffering from severe malnutrition could die this year as famine looms Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, the UN children’s agency said.

The warning comes a day after government officials and the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan.

In Yemen, where war has been raging for nearly two years, 462,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition, while 450,000 children are severely malnourished in northeast Nigeria.

Fews Net, the famine early warning system, said some remote areas of Nigeria’s Borno state have been affected by famine since late last year.

The disaster is likely to continue, it said, as aid agencies are unable to reach those in need.

Drought in Somalia, meanwhile, has left 185,000 children on the brink of famine but that figure is expected to reach 270,000 over the next few months, said UNICEF.

READ MORE: Famine declared in part of South Sudan’s Unity state

In South Sudan, over 270,000 children are malnourished and a famine has just been declared in parts of Unity State in the north of the country, where 20,000 children live.

Aid agencies only describe a crisis as a famine when at least 20 percent of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of food a day and acute malnutrition affects more than 30 percent of the area’s children.

Another reason to declare a famine is when there are two hunger-related deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 children every day.

UNICEF director Anthony Lake appealed for quick action.

“We can still save many lives,” he said.

UN Security Council ambassadors are due to travel to northern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger next month to draw international attention to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict with Boko Haram fighters.

South Sudan famine: Millions suffering food shortages

Source: News agencies

Africa Humanitarian crises Poverty & Development Health Nigeria

South Sudan – mounting calls for investigation of atrocities

Sudan Tribune

(ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations Human Rights office has called for an independent body to investigate crimes committed during the more than three-year conflict in South Sudan.

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A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 3 July 2015 – (UN Photo)

A three-member commission made the call during a three-day workshop on transitional justice in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“An independent mechanism is needed to immediately assist in investigating violations in South Sudan, in advance of the establishment of the hybrid court,” said Yasmin Sooka, chair of the U.N-mandated commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

The Human Rights Council, she urged, should immediately establish a specialised mechanism to map and document conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan with a specific emphasis on command and superior responsibility.

“Too many of those who say ‘justice should only come later’ really mean ‘justice should never come at all,” said Sooka.

“It is imperative to immediately start collecting evidence of violations even before the hybrid court is established,” she added.

Commissioner Ken Scott on his part, however, said investigations needed to start now so that the hybrid court has cases to hear.

“Critical evidence is being lost every day as witnesses are killed or disappear, as memories fade and physical evidence degrades”, he said.

During a visit to South Sudan in December last year, members of the commission reported that the level of sexual violence in the young nation had reached epic proportions and required urgent attention.

The Commission was established in March 2016, by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and tasked with, among other mandates, monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and making recommendations for its improvement.

On 14 March 2017, the U.N Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan will present its report on the human rights situation and make recommendations on accountability to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We will be calling for an international, independent, investigative mechanism for South Sudan to be set up,” said Sooka.

“It should be well-resourced to collect evidence on the ground, focusing primarily on the most recent serious crimes,” she stressed.

Chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) calls for the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan, tasked to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing the responsibility for violations of international law.

(ST)

South Sudan – famine declared in Unity State

Sudan Tribune

February 20, 2017 (JUBA) – War and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people starving in parts of South Sudan, government and three United Nations agencies said Monday.

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IDPs wait to receive food rations and other items from the WFP at a distribution point in Pibor town, Jonglei 21 March 2009 – (photo UN)

An additional one million people in the war-torn nation, the United Nations agencies projected, could be on the brink of famine.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger.

“If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated,” partly reads a joint statement the agencies issued on Monday.

The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released today by the government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners, 4.9 million people, over 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe, the UN agencies urged. Further spread of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled up and reaches the most vulnerable.

Famine, the agencies said, is currently affecting parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of the country. A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted over three years ago.

“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said FAO Representative in South Sudan, Serge Tissot.

“The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch,” he added.

Malnutrition is a major public health emergency, exacerbated by the widespread fighting, displacement, poor access to health services and low coverage of sanitation facilities.

The IPC report estimates that 14 of the 23 assessed counties have global acute malnutrition at or above the emergency threshold of 15%, with some areas as high as 42%.

“More than one million children are currently estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan; over a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished. If we do not reach these children with urgent aid many of them will die,” said Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

“We urge all parties to allow humanitarian organizations unrestricted access to the affected populations, so we can assist the most vulnerable and prevent yet another humanitarian catastrophe,” he added.

U.N agencies and other partners have conducted massive relief operations since the conflict began, and intensified those efforts throughout 2016 to mitigate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis. In Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, among others, the IPC assessment team found that humanitarian relief had lessened the risk of famine there.

In 2016, WFP said it reached a record 4 million people in war-ravaged South Sudan with food assistance, including cash assistance amounting to US$13.8 million, and more than 265,000 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies. This is reportedly the highest largest number of people assisted by WFP in South Sudan since independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.

(ST)

South Sudan – famine declared in Unity State as economic crisis and war hit food availability

BBC

Women who have fled fighting in South Sudan queue for food aid, 19 October 2016AP Queuing for food aid – civil war and economic collapse are being blamed

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced in any part of the world in six years.

The government and the United Nations report that some 100,000 people are facing starvation, with a million more on the brink of famine.

A combination of civil war and an economic collapse have been blamed.

There have been warnings of famine in Yemen, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria, but South Sudan is the first to declare one.

The famine is currently affecting parts of the Unity state in South Sudan, but humanitarian groups have warned that the crisis could spread if urgent help is not received.

Aid agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the children’s fund Unicef, said that 4.9 million people – more than 40% of South Sudan’s population – are in urgent need of food.


When is a famine declared?

Food shortages can lead to large numbers of people lacking nutrition, but only rarely do they amount to famine, according to UN humanitarian criteria.

Long periods of drought and other problems reducing the supply of food do not necessarily result in a famine.

A famine is declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. They are:

  • at least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope
  • acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%
  • the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons

The declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or member states, but serves to focus global attention on the problem.

Source: UN


The report on Monday said that an increase in humanitarian assistance was needed in order to prevent the famine from spreading to other vulnerable areas.

“If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated,” the report said.

Head of the WFP in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, said that the famine was “man-made” after three years of conflict across the country stifled crop production and hit farmers and rural livelihoods.

The impact of the conflict, combined with high food prices, economic disruption and low agricultural production has resulted in the area becoming “food insecure”, the report added.

It is not the first time South Sudan has experienced such a crisis. During the war for independence from Sudan, the territory suffered from a famine in 1998.

Unity state, South Sudan

Last week, the WFP warned that more than 20 million people may face starvation in a series of famines over the next six months.

The WFP’s chief economist, Arif Husain, said a combination of wars and drought meant that for the first time in recent years, aid workers were now talking about four simultaneous famines in separate parts of the world.

He added that despite record levels of international humanitarian aid distribution, there was not enough to look after all the people in need.dehydration

South Sudan: ministers resigns from government and joins rebels

Reuters

By Katharine Houreld and Denis Dumo | NAIROBI/JUBA

A South Sudanese minister has defected to the rebels, the second high-level resignation this week from the government side locked in a civil war which has displaced more than 3 million people.

Lieutenant General Gabriel Duop Lam, the minister of Labour, sent a one-page letter saying he would join the rebellion of former vice president Riek Machar.

“I reaffirm my full allegiance and commitment to the … wise leadership of H.E. Dr. Riek Machar,” he wrote in the letter seen by Reuters on Friday.

Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, was plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired Machar, his deputy and an ethnic Nuer.

The fighting that followed has increasingly followed ethnic lines, and in December the United nations warned that it was setting the stage for genocide.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth, speaking at a news conference in Juba on Friday, confirmed Lam’s defection, the second resignation of a senior figure in a matter of days.

Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the well-respected deputy head of logistics, resigned from the military six days ago but did not say he was joining the rebels.

He cited massive human rights abuses by the military and rampant ethnic favouritism, charging that Kiir was filling key posts in the security forces with Dinka from his home area.

Many human rights groups have reported that the military has looted, raped and killed civilians.

Days after Swaka resigned, the government released a statement saying he had been implicated in a corruption investigation and had fled to avoid justice.

(Reporting by Katharine Houreld and Denis Dumo; editing by Dominic Evans)

South Sudan deploys troops to oil area to,prepare for resumption of production

Sudan Tribune

February 16, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudan has deployed more troops in preparation for the resumption oil production in areas where activities were halted as a result of the December 2013 outbreak of conflict, which badly affected production in Unity state and parts of the Upper Nile region.


A worker walks through an oil production facility in Paloch in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, on 5 May 2013 (Photo: Hannah Mcneish/AFP)

The head of Nilepet, the country’s national oil company, disclosed Thursday that government hopes production resumes after preparations are fully completed.
“The government is doing the best to ensure that there is adequate protection at the sites where oil production would resume soon in unity. Preparations are underway,” said Machar Ader Achiek.
“The security forces are on the ground to provide adequate security and to ensure the safety of the oil workers and operators”, he added.
Local authorities, Achiek said, have started sensitising communities around the area to embrace peaceful dialogue and to help government at their level to bolster security at oil installations at Tharjiath field and other sites.
“Oil is a national resource and it is when it is extracted that the government can now be able to provide services to the people. If extraction is affected, the delivery of the basic services is also affected. So the resumption of the oil production is in the interest of both the government and the communities from where it is extracted,” explained Achiek.
He added, “This is why protection of oil sites requires cooperation from the communities”.
The Sudanese government, according to the head of the state-owned oil entity, agreed to provide electricity from Heglig and to work collaboratively with the south Sudanese authorities to protect oil workers engaged in production.
Northern Liech state information minister, Lam Tungwar said the state government will do its best to help the national government provide protection to workers in the oil fields as requested by the minister of petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, when he visited the newly-created state last month.
Since its independence, South Sudan has relied on oil for all income—a situation that has significantly compounded ongoing political and economic instability due to fall in crude oil prices.
According to South Sudanese officials, production in the past reached as high as 350,000 bpd but fell after a dispute with Sudan over fees for pumping South Sudan’s crude through Sudan’s export pipeline, which led Juba to halt production in 2012.
South Sudan got the lion’s share of the oil when it split from Sudan in 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to the ongoing pricing disputes.

Angola – Portugal laying corruption charges against V-P Vicente

BBC


Angola Vice President Manuel Vicente -AFP

Manuel Vicente was tipped by some to be Angola’s next president

Portuguese state prosecutors are bringing corruption charges against Angola’s vice-president Manuel Vicente.

The attorney-general’s office says that Mr Vicente paid $810,000 (£650,000) in bribes to shut down corruption investigations that he was facing.

The alleged bribes were made to Portugal’s former public prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who also faces charges as part of “Operation Fizz”.

Mr Vicente’s lawyer has denied the allegations, Portuguese media report.

More on this and other African stories

Elite hoard Angola’s new-found wealth

Mr Vicente served as head of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol from 1999 until 2012, a hugely influential position now occupied by the president’s daughter Isabel Dos Santos.

Until news of the corruption scandal emerged last year, he had been strongly tipped as a potential successor to President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979.

The original corruption investigation, halted in 2012, focused on the origin of money Mr Vicente used to buy a luxury apartment in Lisbon, local media reported.
Isabel dos Santos now occupies the post long held by Mr Vicente

The vice-president’s lawyer, Rui Patricio, said his client had not been notified of any charges being brought against him, describing the move as a “procedural violation” which “invalidated the legal process”, local media report.

Portuguese prosecutors say they intend to notify the vice-president of the charges via the Angolan authorities.

Angola has branded previous attempts by Portugal to investigate Mr Vicente as “revenge by the former colonial master” and “neo-colonialism”.

Angola’s political and financial elite have in recent years invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Portugal, Angola’s former colonial ruler.

The investments have largely gone into buying up property and Portuguese companies.

Angola and Nigeria are Africa’s biggest oil producers.

Despite its oil wealth most people in Angola survive on less than $2 a day and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world

Critics accuse President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of being increasingly authoritarian.