The head of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday said northeast Africa is in the grip of a “very fast-moving crisis” that is putting both Somalia and South Sudan “in peril” of severe food shortage.
While Somalia was managing for the moment, South Sudan was not, John Ging, director of the Operational Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said at a press conference here.
He has just returned from an emergency tour of the famine-threatened region and briefed reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
“This is a very fast-moving crisis,” Ging said, referring to Somalia. “Both Somalia and South Sudan are part of a group of countries that are in peril of famine and in the case of South Sudan famine has already been declared.”
“There is a catastrophic food insecurity situation in both of these countries,” he said, adding 6.2 million people in Somalia are “in need of humanitarian assistance and because of the fast-moving situation with the crisis there we have also got an outbreak of cholera where more than 25,000 cases are being reported.”
“We also have threat of measles and 571,000 people displaced since last November, due to the drought and their needing to move from where they are to gain assistance,” Ging said. “The protection issues are massive.”
He said Somalia is a very dangerous environment for the population because of conflict and humanitarian workers are have problems gaining access to victims, “particularly in and to the al-Shabab controlled areas.”
“It is surely a race again time,” Ging said, complimenting government participation, but warning, “This crisis is going to continue to grow.”
In South Sudan, “we have already declared famine, 100,000 people are already suffering from famine in two counties and another 1 million people very close to being declared as affected by famine,” he said.
While Ging said that there already has been a large humanitarian operation in the world’s youngest country for a number of years, it is “one of the most dangerous places for humanitarian aid workers,” with 24 of them killed this year, nine of them last month.
“We are appealing to all in power for help,” Ging said. “Humanitarian colleagues must be respected.”
He said 7.5 million people across South Sudan are now in need of humanitarian assistance while 3.6 million people have been displaced.
But Ging said that unlike in Somalia where there has been “a scale up on the funding side,” it’s not the same situation in South Sudan, where only 27 percent of the 1.6-billion U.S. dollar appeal has been met, or only 438 million U.S. dollars funded.
“That really leaves our operations very vulnerable,” Ging said. “So, in the one country where we already have famine we don’t have resources.” Enditem