Fuel Runs Out For Aid Groups In Ethiopia’s War-Hit Tigray

A fuel nozzle


Foreign aid groups operating in Ethiopia’s war-battered Tigray region are out of fuel and have been forced to deliver assistance to malnourished civilians on foot, the UN said Friday.

“All international NGOs operating in Tigray reported on 24 January that they have depleted their fuel stock with their staff delivering the little remaining humanitarian supplies and services on foot, where possible,” the UN’s humanitarian coordination office said in an update on the situation in northern Ethiopia, where war has raged for nearly 15 months.

Local groups are also struggling to reach people in need because of fuel and cash shortages, the UN said.

Last week, it said food distribution in Tigray had reached an all-time low.

Fighting in the neighbouring Afar region has impeded fresh deliveries along the only operational road route into Tigray, which has not received an aid convoy since December 14.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group announced this week it had launched “robust” military operations in Afar, describing the move as a response to attacks by pro-government forces on its positions.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it did manage to operate two flights carrying medical supplies into Mekele this week.

But a TPLF spokesman said the effort was “a far cry from the massive intervention required in the face of the crisis that Tigray is currently facing”.

Fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to topple the TPLF, the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

The region of six million people has been subject to what the UN describes as a de facto blockade for months.

Washington accuses Abiy’s government of blocking aid, while Addis Ababa blames rebel incursions.

– Malnutrition ‘alarming’ –
Last year the UN said hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray faced what it termed “famine-like conditions”.

Malnutrition continues to soar, the UN said Friday, with 4.2 percent of screened children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition during the latest week for which data is available — “a seriously alarming level”.

Tigray’s pre-war government said this week it had recorded 369 deaths of children under five that it attributed to the blockade, up from nearly 200 in November.

That figure could not be independently verified.

“In the absence of intervention by the international community, millions of Tigrayans will continue to face the risk of death due to hunger and lack of critical medical supplies,” Dr Hagos Godefay, head of Tigray’s pre-war health bureau, said in a report published Wednesday by the Ethiopia Insight website.

Hunger Stalks Southern Africa As Climate Crisis Deepens

Small farmer and single mother Imelda Hicoombolwa removes weeds from her field in Kaumba on January 21, 2020.  Guillem Sartorio / AFP


The spectre of want is haunting Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa as they grapple with a long and devastating drought.

AFP reporters who travelled across the three countries saw widespread suffering in rural areas where successive harvests have been hit by lack of rain or shortened rainfall seasons.

Across the 16-nation southern African region, 45 million people are “gravely food insecure,” the World Food Programme (WFP) said on January 16. In some regions, the drought is three years old — in others, five.

In the Zambian village of Simumbwe, hundreds waited for food to be distributed by the NGO World Vision and the UN.

“The children ask me: ‘What are we going to eat?'” said Loveness Haneumba, a mother of five.

“I answer: ‘Just wait. Let me look around’.”

A teacher, Teddy Siafweba, said about 15 children in his class were absent that day because of hunger. In the classroom next door, about 30 were missing — nearly half of the rollcall of 70.

In South Africa’s Northern Cape province, at the gateway of the Kalahari desert, the wild animals are used to extreme temperatures but even they are succumbing to the conditions.

According to Wildlife Ranching South Africa, two-thirds of wild animals in the province have died in the last three years.

In two years, half of the 4,500 buffaloes, hippopotamuses and kudus at the Thuru Lodge game farm near Groblershoop have disappeared.

The average rainfall here is 250 millimetres (one inch) a year.

“But 250 millimetres, that’s what we have had in five years,” said its manager, Burger Schoeman.

At the top of a hill that overlooked the 22,000-hectare (54,000-acre) private reserve, two huge holes served as mass graves.

The drought represents a financial black hole for the lodge, which spends 200,000 rand (12,000 euros) per month to feed the animals while cancelling the reservations of tourists on the lookout for “trophies.”

“We need to offer a fair hunt. Hunters can’t shoot weak animals,” said Schoeman.

Johan Steenkamp, a 52-year-old farmer with a spread of 6,000 hectares, said he had lost up to 70 percent of his stock.

Sheep still give birth, but they abandon their newborn lambs.

“They have no milk,” Steenkamp said. “They leave them there.”

Hand-in-hand with the desperation are signs of hope as some farmers adapt to climate shock.

Three years ago, Imelda Hicoombolwa, a single Zambian mother and small farmer, gambled on agricultural diversification, opting for nutritious vegetables and using techniques adapted to climate change.

“Food is not a problem. I have it,” she beamed.

Before 2017, Hicoombolwa cultivated almost only maize. Today, she harvests cowpeas, which need very little water, as well as peanuts, pumpkins and sunflowers.

“I can make 18,000 kwacha (1,100 euros, $1,222) a year. Before, I was making 8,000 kwacha a year,” she said. “Before, the children were missing school because I could not always pay the tuition fees. Not any more.”


Over Seven Million Yemeni Children Face ‘Serious’ Famine Threat – UN


Over seven million children face a serious threat of famine in Yemen and ending the country’s war will not save all of them, the UN children’s agency said.

“Today, 1.8 million children under the age of five are facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 are affected by severe acute malnutrition,” said Geert Cappelaere, regional director of UNICEF.

“More than half” of the 14 million people at serious risk of famine in the impoverished country are children, Cappelaere told AFP late on Wednesday.

“Ending the war is not enough,” he said, referring to a more than the three-year conflict that pits the government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition against Huthi rebels.

“What we need is to stop the war and (to create) a government mechanism that puts at the center the people and children.

“The war is exacerbating the situation that was already bad before because of years of underdevelopment” in the Arab world’s poorest nation, Cappelaere said.

He welcomed a call by the UN on Wednesday to relaunch peace talks within a month.

He said efforts to come up with a solution in the next 30 days were “critical” to improving aid distribution and saving lives.

Cappelaere said that over 6,000 children have either been killed or sustained serious injuries since 2015.

“These are the numbers we have been able to verify, but we can safely assume that the number is higher, much higher,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the war to bolster Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Iran-backed rebels took over the capital Sanaa.

Since 2015, more than 10,000 people have been killed and some 22 million — three-quarters of the population — are in need of food aid, according to the UN.


‘5.2 Million Children Face Famine In Yemen’

FILE photo of Yemen Children




More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, the charity Save the Children warned Wednesday.

Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale,” the British based NGO said in a new report.

Save the Children said an extra one million children now risk falling into famine as prices of food and transportation rise, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

Any type of closure at the port “would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine,” it added.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in deadly conflict between Shiite Huthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014.

A Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015 in a bid to bolster the president, accusing Iran of backing the Huthis, but nearly 10,000 people have since been killed.

Deadly clashes resumed around the Huthi-held port city of Hodeida following the collapse of talks in Geneva earlier this month.

“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.

“In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger.

“This war risks killing an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera,” she added.

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeida could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse the Huthi rebels of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and have imposed a partial blockade on the port.

The Huthis and Iran both deny the charges.


South Sudan No Longer In Famine – U.N.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir

South Sudan is no longer classified as being in famine but the situation remains extremely vulnerable said United Nations Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator on Wednesday.

“The new IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) assessment in South Sudan which was just released today, shows that famine is no longer occurring in those two counties – Leer and Mayendit – and that further deterioration into famine was averted in two other counties in former Unity State,” Stephen O’Brien said.

However, 45,000 people are still expected to be facing famine-like conditions and more people are on the brink of famine today than there were in February, according to him.

Two years after emerging as an independent state, the oil-rich country was plunged into conflict in December 2013 as the rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his then-vice president, Riek Machar, exploded into violence.

The conflict has prevented many farmers from planting and harvesting their crops. Hyperinflation, which reached more than 800 percent last year, has put the price of imported food beyond the reach of many.

Director of Oxfam International Humanitarian, Nigel Timmins, decried the late response to the crisis.

“What is appalling is that it took a threat of a famine to get significant international response. As a community, we seem to have empowered famine declarations and this has led to some good results but it also seems to give the perception that anything before famine is acceptable – it isn’t,” he said.


Boko Haram Insurgency: Agencies Say Six Million People Face Famine

Famine, Boko Haram Insurgency, Aid Agencies Aid agencies have warned that at least six million people in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon face famine as a result of Boko Haram violence.

Oxfam, the international rescue committee and catholic relief services also warned that more than 65,000 people were living in severe hunger in pockets of Northeast Nigeria.

They added that over one million others were “one step away” from famine.

A statement issued by the Country Director for Nigeria for Action Against Hunger, Mr Yannick Pouchalan, stated that the groups have seen families who have not eaten for days with many begging for food.

The agencies claimed that conflict and counter-insurgency operations have led to farmlands, rivers and lakes being cut off from communities in and around the Lake Chad area that rely on agriculture and fishing to feed themselves.

Over six years of insurgency has left the region devastated.

UNICEF says children, pregnant women and nursing mothers are severely malnourished in Nigeria’s northeast

Boko Haram terrorists are pushing for the establishment of an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region, an agitation that has displaced over two million persons from the northeast.

The agencies statement on famine in the region and some neighbouring countries is coming weeks after UNICEF raised alarm of malnutrition in the region.

The UN agency had said if fears that 49,000 children are at risk of death if they do not get nutritious foods in the shortest possible time.