Category Archives: Health

South Sudan – EU pledges $82m in emergency famine aid

Sudan Tribuneseparation


February 22, 2017 (JUBA) – The European Commission has announced an emergency aid worth €82 million in the wake of the declaration of famine outbreak in South Sudan.

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European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Reuters Photo)

At least 100,000 people, aid agencies said, are facing starvation in parts of the country while 4.9 million of them need urgent humanitarian assistance.

“The humanitarian tragedy in South Sudan is entirely man made. Urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. I have seen for myself the impact of this crisis when visiting South Sudan and neighbouring countries such as Uganda, and I’m ready to return to the region,” the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said in a statement.

“Crucially what matters is that all parties allow humanitarian organisations to have immediate and full access to do their job and deliver aid. Ultimately it is only by laying down arms that the country can be rebuilt and that the hopes that came with independence can be fulfilled,” it adds.

The new EU humanitarian aid package will be used for the most urgent needs in the country and help neighbouring countries cope with the massive influx of refugees.

To date, the European Commission has reportedly made more than €381 million available to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since fighting erupted in December 2013 in areas such as health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, education as well as shelter and protection.

The EU is one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid in South Sudan, having provided over 40% of all humanitarian financing to support life-saving programmes in 2016.

(ST)

Africa – why are there still famines?

BBC

Women hold their babies as they wait for a medical check-up at a Unicef-supported mobile health clinic in Nimini village, Unity State, South SudanReuters

The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced anywhere in the world in six years. There have also been warnings of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Why are there still famines and what can be done about it?

What is happening in South Sudan?

UN agencies say 100,000 people are facing starvation in South Sudan and a further 1 million there are classified as being on the brink of famine. This is the most acute of the present food emergencies. It is also the most widespread nationally. Overall, says the UN, 4.9 million people – or 40% of South Sudan’s population – are “in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance”.

“Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” says the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization representative in South Sudan, Serge Tissot.

The basic cause of the famine is conflict. The country has now been at war since 2013 and more than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

As World Food Programme country director Joyce Luma says: “This famine is man-made.”

“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,” says Mr Tissot.

Crop production has been severely curtailed by the conflict, even in previously stable and fertile areas, as a long-running dispute among political leaders has escalated into a violent competition for power and resources among different ethnic groups.

As crop production has fallen and livestock have died, so inflation has soared (by up to 800% year-on-year, says the UN) causing massive price rises for basic foodstuffs.

This economic collapse would not have happened without war.

What does the declaration of famine mean?

The UN considers famine a technical term, to be used sparingly. The formal famine declaration in South Sudan means people there have already started dying of hunger.

More specifically, famine can be declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. These are:

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

Other factors that may be considered include large-scale displacement, widespread destitution, disease outbreaks and social collapse.

The declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or anyone else, but does bring global attention to the problem.

Map showing scale of malnutrition

Previous famines include southern Somalia in 2011, southern Sudan in 2008, Gode in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2000, North Korea (1996), Somalia (1991-1992) and Ethiopia in 1984-1985.

The possibility of three further famine declarations in Nigeria, Somali and Yemen would be an unprecedented situation in modern times.

“We have never seen that before and with all of these crises, they are protracted situations and they require significant financing,” World Food programme director of emergencies Denise Brown told the Guardian. “The international community has got to find a way of stepping up to manage this situation until political solutions are found.”

What can be done in South Sudan?

In the immediate term, two things would be necessary to halt and reverse the famine: More humanitarian assistance and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to those worst affected.

Camp for displaced people in South SudanAFP   Many South Sudanese are living in makeshift camps, having been displaced by the fighting

UN agencies speak of handing out millions of emergency livelihood kits, intended to help people fish or grow vegetables. There has also been a programme to vaccinate sheep and goats in an attempt to stem further livestock losses.

But, says Ms Luma, “we have also warned that there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security”.

The areas where a famine has been declared are in parts of Unity State seen as sympathetic to the rebels.

Unity state, South Sudan

Some UN officials have suggested President Salva Kiir’s government has been blocking food aid to certain areas. There have also been reports of humanitarian convoys and warehouses coming under attack or being looted, either by government or rebel forces.

Although it denies the charges, President Kiir has now promised “that all humanitarian and development organisations have unimpeded access to needy populations across the country”.

But apart from that, there has been no indication that the huge suffering of civilians will prompt South Sudan’s warring parties to stop fighting.

Why are there food security crises elsewhere?

The common theme is conflict.

Yemen, north-east Nigeria and Somalia are all places where fighting has severely disrupted stability and normal life.

In Yemen, a multi-party civil conflict has drawn in regional powers, causing widespread destruction, economic damage and loss of life.

Nigeria and Somalia have faced insurgencies by extremist Islamist groups Boko Haram and al-Shabab, respectively, leading to large-scale displacement of people, disruption of agriculture and the collapse of normal trading and market activities.

Yemenis collect water from a donated source amid continuing disruption of water supply in the impoverished coastal village on the outskirts of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on February 20, 2017AFP   Yemenis have suffered disruption to water supplies

In some cases, conflict has compounded pre-existing problems.

Yemen has long-standing water shortages and successive governments have been criticised for not doing more to conserve resources and improve the country’s ability to feed itself. (Even before the conflict started, nearly 90% of Yemen’s food had to be imported, Oxfam says.)

In other cases, shorter term climatic factors may be relevant.

South Sudan and Somalia have both been affected by a months-long drought across east Africa.

How is it different for more stable countries?

In Kenya, the government has declared a national disaster because of the drought and announced a compensation scheme for those who have lost livestock.

The Kenya Red Cross has been making cash payments, distributing food vouchers and aid and helping livestock owners sell off weakening animals before they die.

In pictures: Kenyans share their dinner to save livestock

This kind of ameliorative action is much less possible or likely in countries riven by war.

A mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri, NigeriaAP   The Islamist insurgency in north-east Nigeria has left the area on the brink of famine

UN assistant secretary general Justin Forsyth told the BBC: “Nobody should be dying of starvation in 2017. There is enough food in the world, we have enough capability in terms of the humanitarian community.

“In South Sudan, [the UN children’s agency] Unicef has 620 feeding centres for severely malnourished children, so the places where children are dying are places we can’t get to, or get to only occasionally. If there was access, we could save all of these children’s lives.”

The US-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies says 19 African countries are facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

Of these, 10 are experiencing civil conflict. Eight of these are autocracies and the source of 82% of the 18.5 million Africans who are internally displaced or refugees, the ACSS says.

UN allocates $21 million to Sudan Humanitarian Fund

Sudan Tribuneseparation


WFP food assistance being offloaded from a truck at a distribution site in the South Kordofan capital Kadugli (File Photo WFP)
February 20, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations has contributed $21 million to the 2017 Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF) to help address growing humanitarian needs in Sudan.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Monday, the UN said “the humanitarian challenges in Sudan are diverse and complex, including in Darfur where over 3 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance”.

“Funds to the SHF for this allocation have been donated by the governments of Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom,” read the statement.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Marta Ruedas, said the SHF “will continue to support the frontline responders in Sudan, the organisations working to provide relief every day, especially to the most vulnerable, such as women and children”.

The statement pointed that SHF plays a vital role in ensuring an effective, coordinated, prioritised and principled humanitarian response in Sudan.

“Since 2006, the SHF has received and granted over $1 billion to international and national NGOs, and UN agencies, funds and programmes, enabling these entities to provide relief to people in need,” it added

According to the statement, in 2016, the SHF allocated $38.8, which represented about eight percent of the overall funding available to humanitarian partners.

(ST)

South Sudan famine – Kiir promises access to civilians as famine bites

Star (Kenya)

Kiir promises safe access to civilians as South Sudan famine bites

Feb. 21, 2017, 3:00 pm

Women carry sacks of food in Nimini village, Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 8, 2017. /REUTERS
Women carry sacks of food in Nimini village, Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 8, 2017. /REUTERS

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Tuesday promised aid agencies safe access to hunger-stricken civilians, a day after his government declared a famine in parts of the war-ravaged country.

South Sudan has been mired in civil war since 2013 and the United Nations said on Monday it was unable to reach some of the worst hit areas because of the insecurity.

“The government will ensure all the humanitarian and developmental organisations have unimpeded access to the needy population across the country,” Kiir said in a speech to parliament.

Nearly half of South Sudan’s 11 million people will lack reliable access to affordable food by July, the government predicts, because of the fighting, drought and hyperinflation.

South Sudan has been hit by the same east African drought that has pushed Somalia back to the brink of famine, six years after 260,000 people starved to death in 2011.

The UN children’s agency, Unicef, on Tuesday said nearly 1.4 million children were at “imminent” risk of death in famines in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria.

South Sudan is rich in oil resources. But, six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan, there are only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads in a nation the size of Texas. In the fighting, food warehouses have been looted and aid workers killed.

The conflict has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide.

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it had set up an emergency intervention in northern Mayendit county to help malnourished children. One in four children in Mayendit had acute malnutrition, MSF said.

“Providing healthcare is a major challenge in such a dangerous context: people are constantly moving to seek safety,” MSF said on Twitter.

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 – 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)

West Africa ebola – “super-spreaders” led to most cases

BBC

A man in a protective suit holding a childGETTY IMAGES

The majority of cases in the world’s largest outbreak of Ebola were caused by a tiny handful of patients, research suggests.

The analysis, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows nearly two thirds of cases (61%) were caused by 3% of infected people.

The young and old were more likely to have been “super-spreaders”.

It is hoped understanding their role in spreading the infection will help contain the next outbreak.

More than 28,600 people were infected with Ebola during the 2014-15 outbreak in west Africa and around 11,300 people died.

How did it spread?

The study looked at cases in and around the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown.

By looking at the pattern of where and when cases emerged, the researchers could tell how many people each infected person was passing the deadly virus onto.

Prof Steven Riley, one of the researchers at Imperial College London, told the BBC News website: “Most cases had a relatively short infectious period and generated low numbers of secondary infections, whereas a small number had longer infectious periods and generated more infections.

“The findings are likely an accurate description of what happened.”

A dead body being carried on a stretcher by nurses in protective clothingGETTY IMAGES

Children under 15-years-old and adults over 45 were more likely to be spreading the virus.

“My feeling is this may be explained by human behaviour,” said Prof Riley.

“It may not even be the cases, but the people around them.

“I wonder whether it is to do with people coming to care for the young or old.”

Infection hallmark

Super-spreaders have been implicated in other outbreaks, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers).

They seem to be a hallmark of emerging infections that are jumping from animal to human hosts. The knowledge could help contain future outbreaks by targeting resources at the super-spreaders.

Huge efforts went into contact-tracing during the Ebola outbreak, which could be focused on super-spreaders in the future. The study may also feed into plans to prepare a stockpile of Ebola vaccine.

Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, told the BBC: “The recent West African outbreak was on an unprecedented scale and many cases, especially those occurring out in the community, appear to have arisen from a surprisingly small number of infected individuals.

“Knowing who is most likely to transmit the virus can help in focusing interventions designed to prevent virus spread, and the current study suggests that infected children and the elderly were more likely to pass their virus on.

“Whether this was this due to biological or social factors is unclear, and these will be important questions to address if we are to understand how Ebola virus super-spread occurs.”

The research was a collaboration between Princeton University, Oregon State University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Imperial College London and the US National Institutes of Health.

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