24 February, 2017
THREAT OF FOUR FAMINES
Oxfam is warning that the world stands on the brink of an unprecedented four famines in 2017 due to a catastrophic failure of the global community to uphold its obligations to the most vulnerable of people. "Oxfam today calls on donors to take immediate action to help as many as 20 million people now at risk of starvation.
Famine was declared this week in parts of South Sudan. In northern Nigeria it is likely that some 400,000 people living in areas cut off from aid are already suffering famine. Both Yemen and Somalia stand on the brink. The primary driver of these crises is conflict, though in Somalia it is drought.
Donor countries have failed to adequately support efforts to resolve these conflicts and, in Yemen, are actually fuelling the conflict through arms sales. They now have a moral obligation to meet the $4.4 billion needed for a humanitarian response at the required scale. They need to find political answers to the causes of the collapse of these countries into such catastrophic levels of suffering.
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB said: 'Famine does not arrive suddenly or unexpectedly. It comes after months of procrastination and ignored warnings. It is a slow agonising process, driven by callous national politics and international indifference. It is the ultimate betrayal of our common humanity.'
Half-hearted responses to UN appeals have short-changed the aid effort to save people's lives. This must not continue. Governments need to act now to fully fund the aid effort."
Read the full press release here.
HORN, EAST, CENTRAL AFRICA
South Sudan: On Monday the government of South Sudan declared famine in parts of former Unity State, where three years of war and spiralling economic problems have left 100,000 people on the brink of starvation. Half of the country's population is expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July and more than one million children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, leaving their lives at risk. It's possible that famine will spread as the country heads deeper into the lean season, but the very worst can be averted as long as aid is allowed to access
the worst affected areas. Oxfam is already working in Panyijar county, very close to where the famine has been declared, and we're now going to scale up activities there. This will mean more food, water and sanitation assistance. Panyijar receives many people from Leer - the county that is already in famine - who leave their homes in search of aid and safety. Not only is the area facing famine, but we're also responding to a cholera outbreak in swampy land around Nyal, just south of Leer. Here, we've been digging and repairing boreholes to provide clean water sources, as well
as promoting good hygiene practices. We're also going to scale up operations in former Jonglei state, another of the areas most affected by the food crisis.
All of this comes in the context of a brutal civil war in which civilians including women and children have been attacked, schools and hospitals have been looted and burned and over 3.4 million people have been forced from their homes. The dry season, which will run until May, brings mixed blessings because although it means aid can more easily reach remote areas, it also brings an escalation of conflict as armed groups move around more easily. Either way, the need to get emergency stocks in place before the rains hit is urgent. Oxfam already has a large programme in the country. Last
year our humanitarian team, based in six locations around South Sudan, supported over 400,000 people.
Chad: Of the limited media attention given to the food crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, most has been on Nigeria, but Oxfam has also been responding in Chad itself. Because of fears that Boko Haram militants would make their way into the country by crossing the islands that dot Lake Chad, all human presence was outlawed on them. This had the knock on effect of taking away the livelihoods of many who relied on the islands as fishing bases, sparking another food crisis. Since then Oxfam has been providing cash to those who can access functioning markets, as well as support
in growing food and access to drinkable water by drilling boreholes. In total we've supported 40,000 people across the north of the country.
MIDDLE EAST / NORTH AFRICA
Iraq: The Iraq government-led offensive to retake the west part of Mosul stepped up this week and with the city's airport now retaken, we're expecting fighting to spread into densely populated areas soon. Having been under siege conditions for the past few months, with very little getting in our out of the city, civilians are likely to be in need of urgent help. The latest fighting in villages around Mosul has resulted in a steady trickle of people being displaced, but many more will come in the next few weeks and months. As previously reported, we've
positioned ourselves well in areas where most of those who flee will travel. Some of those who fled eastern Mosul in the previous offensive have tried to return but in reality this part of the city is now quite unsafe. Sporadic ISIS attacks continue and there have been reports of banditry. This is just the beginning of what is likely to be an extremely difficult and protracted crisis.