08 November, 2017
HORN, EAST, CENTRAL AFRICA
South Sudan: The latest official predictions for food security across the country make worrying reading. Food insecurity is worsening. The latest IPC report (integrated phase classification) shows the highest proportion of the population at crisis levels of food insecurity ever recorded. Even more worryingly, these hunger levels have been recorded at harvest time when people should have crops but don't, because of the fighting. So while the pockets of extreme hunger are too small individually for Famine to be
declared, the fact that more people than ever are at crisis level, and that water-borne diseases are increasing, and the longest deadliest cholera epidemic did not die down in the dry season (as normally expected), all point to a country in desperate straits. While Oxfam and other agencies can keep people from actually starving, we are only holding off the worst. South Sudan really must have a lasting peace if we are going to see any improvements.
MIDDLE EAST / NORTH AFRICA
Yemen: In an alarming new development, the Saudi regime has shut off all routes into Yemen, by road, air, and sea. Yemenis depend on imports for 90% of their basics (food, fuel, medicines) and the UN has warned that Yemen faces the world's largest famine in decades "with millions of victims" if aid deliveries are not resumed. Supplies still exist in the country so we haven't seen the full implications of such a move yet, but Oxfam staff are moving minimally to conserve fuel. Next week there is a meeting of five foreign ministries in London to discuss
it, and we are lobbying hard in advance of that.
Read Humanitarian agencies condemn the closure of Yemen's air, sea and land ports for more information.
Bangladesh: 800,000 Rohingya people have now arrived in Cox's Bazar, 600,000 of whom have arrived since the end of August. They are cramped together on about 3,000 acres of land (roughly the size of Heathrow airport). We've been there since the first people started to arrive, and to date our work (and others') has been predominantly water supplies and toilet facilities. Nevertheless, sanitary conditions are poor and we need to put more effort into waste management; Oxfam is leading the thinking behind creative ways to desludge full latrines in hilly and
overcrowded sites. One solution is to introduce tiger worms and we have trialled a few which have been designated the cleanest toilets in the camps. But the quantities of human waste also risk contaminating the water table and the shallower wells (another thing that needs addressing urgently). After many agencies including ourselves distributed food aid, we are now assessing local markets (whereabouts, goods for sale, prices) to see if it would be preferable to give people cash grants.
An Oxfam brief containing testimonies from people who fled will be available soon.