Tag Archives: famine

Tigray: food as weapon of war

Brussels 30.07.2021 “Trucks carrying food supplies that could save countless lives in Tigray are being prevented from moving, apparently deliberately. Increasingly hard to avoid conclusion that access to food is used as weapon of war. It is the Ethiopian Government’s responsibility to provide access” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

United Nations Security Council resolution 2417 of May 2018 reaffirms that “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare may constitute a war crime.”

The conflict in Ethiopia Tigray region has forced more than two million to flee their homes and left millions without resources, dependent on food aid. Deepening the crisis, Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly cut basic services to the Tigray region, including vital electricity supply and communications. These actions, together with the killing, pillaging, and rape, committed by all parties, has created a profound humanitarian crisis.

More than 100,000 children in Tigray are at risk and could suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in the next 12 months, a 10-fold jump over average annual levels, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday, July 30.

Tigray on brink of famine

Brussels 03.07.2021 The United Nations said the conflict could rapidly flare again in Ethiopia’s Tigray and that famine was worsening in the region, where local fighters declared victory this week after an eight-month war with central government and allied forces.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, provincial authorities which Ethiopian forces and troops from neighbouring Eritrea drove out last year, returned to regional capital Mekelle on Monday, June 28, to cheering crowds.

“There is potential for more confrontations and a swift deterioration in the security situation, which is extremely concerning,” U.N. political and peacebuilding affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the U.N. Security Council.

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday which the TPLF dismissed as a joke. There are reports of continued clashes in some places as pressure builds internationally for all sides to pull back.

Acting U.N. aid chief Ramesh Rajasingham said shortages of food had worsened dramatically over the past two weeks and some 400,000 people in Tigray were now estimated to be in famine, with another 1.8 million on the brink of famine.

Both Russia and China did not object to Friday July 2 public meeting of the UN Security Council on Tigray, but
they made clear that they believed the conflict is an internal affair for Ethiopia. Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said: “We believe that interference by the Security Council in solving it is counterproductive.”
Russia and China are both council veto-powers, along with the U.S., France and UK.

White farmers welcome back to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe “white farmers” whose land was seized under Robert Mugabe rule can apply to claim it back or they will be offered land elsewhere if restitution proves impractical, the government announced on August 31.

Last month, Zimbabwe agreed to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to local white farmers whose land was forcibly expropriated by the government to resettle Black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most controversial policies from Robert Mugabe legacy.

Under Zimbabwean laws passed during a short period of opposition government but ignored by Mugabe, foreign white farmers protected by treaties between their governments and Zimbabwe should be compensated for both land and other assets.

In that regard, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in a joint statement that these farmers should apply for their land return.

In practice, in some instances the government would “revoke the offer letters of resettled (Black) farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” the ministers said.

However the transfer of the Black beneficiaries from the land could become difficult politically and practically.

“Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available,” the statement said.

The ministers said other white farmers whose land had been earmarked for acquisition by the government but were still present on the properties, can apply to lease the land for 99 years.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has underlined the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe, where the number of white farmers has dropped to just over 200 from 4,500 when land reforms began 20 years ago, according to the predominantly white commercial farmers union.

The seizures of land that began four decades ago in an attempt to harmonise historical imbalances, later the expropriations were ratified by the government, which said they were needed to adjust to modernity the colonial heritage. As a result of this policy the florising agriculture that exported tobacco and roses and grew most of the food for the nation collapsed. Periodic food shortages ensued, the risk of famine has become real, and inflation became the world’s highest. The manufacturing industry was decimated. Robert Mugabe started his mandate as President of one of Africa’s richest countries, which under his leaderhip it became one of its poorest.

At present the World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently seeking to intensify the international support to prevent millions of Zimbabweans plunging deeper into hunger. 

According to the WFP, the number of food-insecure people is expected to surge by almost 50%, manning to 8.6 million Zimbabweans by the end of 2020. 

That figure represents around 60% of the population, the agency said in a statement, highlighting drought, economic recession and the COVID-19  pandemic as the main reasons of the crisis.

Galloping hyperinflation has signified that few families can now afford even basic food, WFP said, with the price of maize, the staple cereal, more than doubling in June.

Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said that many Zimbabwean families were suffering “the ravages of acute hunger”, before appealing to the international community to help prevent “a potential humanitarian catastrophe.”

EU supports East Africa in locust outbreak

The EU has mobilised a further €15 million to support the United Nations and partner countries in the fight against one of the worst desert locust outbreaks seen in East Africa in decades.

The desert locust outbreak has had a devastating impact on food security in an already vulnerable region. Efforts to halt the spread of the locust infestation have been further strained due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is why the EU is increasing its support to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) response plan and will support broader EU development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in the region.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have experienced the catastrophic consequences of this desert locust outbreak on livelihoods and food security, a situation that is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic which has made intervention efforts more difficult. Earlier this year we demonstrated the need to react quickly to combat the outbreak. Today’s decision to increase our support shows we are determined to continue our action to tackle food insecurity as a founding member of the Global Network Against Food Crises.”

The decision coincided with an Informal Ministerial on the Horn of Africa hosted by Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, and attended by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaїl Chergui; UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo and IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

The FAO has formulated a response plan, but given the continued desert locust crisis, country interventions must be scaled up to support national governments of the affected countries. The EU, together with partners in the region, is committed to containing this outbreak, anticipating its impacts on food and nutrition security and protecting the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across Eastern Africa and beyond.

The EU’s €15 million contribution announced today comes in addition to €42 million mobilised in early 2020 for a broad humanitarian-development approach in the region.

The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Crop and food losses in affected areas can be enormous, generating direct dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods. Local food markets can also be affected, as food availability declines, impacting on an already vulnerable population through spikes to food prices.

The situation in East Africa has rapidly deteriorated, where 27.5 million people suffer from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more are at risk. Weather conditions have been unusually conducive to the breeding and further spreading of locusts. Damage to crop and pasture have been devastating across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the outbreak may spread to neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.

The FAO’s response plan estimates that around €206 million will be required for the most urgent activities for both desert locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery.

EU Council on development

Refugee camps
The EU Council will address the humanitarian situation in Africa, Yemen and Syria. Development ministers are expected to express their concerns over deteriorating humanitarian crises and the risk on famine in several African countries, including Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia.
 Following the EU-ACP Council of ministers on 4-5 May, development ministers will discuss the future relations between the EU and the ACP countries after the Cotonou Agreement expires in February 2020. The basis for the discussions is a joint communication of  November 2016 from the European Commission and the High
Representative.

Joint doorstep by Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the EU
Neven MIMICA, charged with International Co-operation development
Amina J.MOHAMMED, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

Troika “deeply troubled” by conflict in South Sudan

“The members of the Troika (the UK, US and Norway) and the EU are deeply troubled by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. We echo the concerns highlighted recently by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat and Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission President Festus Mogae on increased violence, and strongly endorse their call to end all military operations immediately” – says the statement by the Troika and EU on the security situation in South Sudan.

“Opposition attacks on civilians are disrupting lifesaving aid and commercial trade. Large government offensives in Yuai, Waat, Tonga and Kodok have resulted in even more tragic humanitarian consequences, displacing 50,000-100,000 individuals in recent weeks. Government forces continue to target civilians in violation of the law of armed conflict. These actions stand in direct conflict with the Government’s stated aim of a political solution to the conflict, and severely undermine the prospect of any credible national dialogue. The Troika and EU call on President Kiir to implement immediately his commitment to a unilateral ceasefire as conveyed to IGAD heads of state on 25 March.”

“We continue to underline that there is no military solution to the conflict. The Government of South Sudan must ensure that there is a meaningful ceasefire which shows a genuine commitment to peace and stability, and is not simply a reflection of the fact that fighting is made more difficult by the rainy season. Such a commitment must go beyond simply a cessation of hostilities, and include withdrawing troops; disbanding ethnic militias; helping, not hindering humanitarian assistance; and releasing political detainees.”

EU saving lives in Horn of Africa

A Humanitarian Crisis Meeting on the alarming levels offood insecurity in the Horn of Africa was held in Brussels on 5 April 2017.

The meeting was co-hosted by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs (EU HR), Mr Sigmar Gabriel, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and Mr Stephen O’Brien, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The objective of the meeting was to raise awareness and share analysis on the dire humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa. Urgent and coordinated action is needed by the international community to rapidly and effectively scale-up life-saving humanitarian aid. While the United Nations and humanitarian partners have already intensified their life-saving response, more funding and access is needed.

 

With several million people starving and at risk of famine, the Horn of Africa is in dire need of life-saving humanitarian assistance to prevent recurrence of the famine of 2011 in Somalia. Several countries in the area are affected by conflict and displacement, a situation further exacerbated by consecutive severe droughts. The situation is especially dire in Somalia. Millions are also struggling in Ethiopia and Kenya, despite broad and strong support by the Governments. This poses a serious threat to the stability of the region as well as to the security and development gains achieved over the past years.

Humanitarian organisations warn that millions of people could starve if life-saving assistance cannot be providedrapidly. United Nations has described the currentsituation as dramatic and called for urgent action, including funding and humanitarian access.

Humanitarian partners require more than US$5.6 billion in 2017 for Somalia, South Sudan, North-Eastern Nigeria and Yemen. Of this, more than US$4.4 billion is required for immediate assistance to avert an even greater catastrophe.

The EU High Representative (HR), Germany and United Nations reaffirmed their commitment to support the efforts to assist people in need and recognized the extraordinary work done by humanitarian workers often in very difficult circumstances. The EU HR, Germany and United Nations commended the considerable success some governments in the region have achieved in strengthening drought resilience and recognized the efforts of Governments and humanitarian partners in responding to the crisis.

Humanitarian assistance, however, cannot address the structural deficits and root causes underlying the protracted conflicts and food insecurity. Political solutions as well as a parallel scale-up in longer-term action are needed to prevent a recurrence of the situation.

The EU HR, Germany and United Nations called on all partners to increase support for humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa and other crisis areas. The HR/VP, Germany and United Nations stressed that common efforts can only be effective as long as access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid is granted.

The meeting also served to provide input to the London conference on Somalia on 11 May 2017 and the international meeting “The Berlin Humanitarian Call – jointly against famine” taking place on 12 April 2017 in Berlin.

The meeting was held in the presence of ministerial level representatives from national governments and international organisations, notably several EU Members States, Mr Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, Norway, Switzerland, ICRC, FAO, WFP and Norwegian Refugee Council.