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Africa: Tsunami Side-Effects
Feb 15, 2005 (050215)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Donations to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) operations
in Africa dropped by 21 percent in January 2005 compared to the
first month of 2004. Warning of an apparent 'tsunami effect'
rippling across Africa, WFP executive director James Morris called
for new efforts to counter donor neglect of urgent humanitarian
needs on the continent.
In dramatic contrast to the rapid response from donors to UN agency
appeals for the Indian Ocean tsunami, the shortfall in response to
appeals for African emergencies, whether related to drought or
conflict, is growing rather than diminishing. UN officials and
others have expressed the hope that the generosity of response to
the tsunami could be extended to other areas. So far, however, the
principal effect seems to have been to intensify the humanitarian
"double standard" in which Africa comes last.
For example, the WFP current emergency
operation to help Sudanese refugees return home to southern Sudan
and rebuild their lives this year is funded at just 7 percent with a massive
shortfall of US$279 million. And rations for Sudanese and other refugees in
Ethiopia have been slashed by 30 percent as a result of funding shortages.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts highlighting this issue, from a February 14
World Food Program news release and from a recent statement to the
United Nations Security Council by Jan Egeland,
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on UN humanitarian appeals and
donor response, see
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Tsunami Overshadows Aid for Africa's Hungry
World Food Program
14 February 2005
[excerpt: for full news release, with contact information for WPF,
Rome - With 22 million people in Africa desperately short of food,
the United Nations World Food Programme called today for the world
to respond to the continent's hunger with the same commitment and
compassion shown recently towards the survivors of the Indian Ocean
Donations to WFP's operations in Africa dropped by 21 percent in
January 2005 to US$24 million compared to US$29 million in the
first month of 2004. Globally, contributions to WFP's work in
Africa represented just eight percent of the total received by the
agency, compared with 20 percent in January 2004.
"By responding so vigorously to the tsunami, the world admirably
demonstrated how much it cares for millions of people facing
extraordinary suffering," said WFP Executive Director James Morris.
"The challenge we now face is to ensure that a 'tsunami effect'
does not ripple across Africa, drawing funds away from humanitarian
operations there and adding Sudanese, Angolan and Liberian victims
to its toll. I'm sure that donors to the tsunami disaster will not
allow their generosity to be at the expense of hungry people in
Africa, however far from the global spotlight they are," said
The January contributions of US$24 million to WFP were for
operations to help feed 22 million people with critical needs in 22
countries. These include Lesotho and Angola in the south, the
Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa, Eritrea in the
northeast and war-ravaged Liberia and Cote D'Ivoire in the west.
Despite a welcome increase of $80 million in early February,
donations for Africa amount to just five percent of the US$1.9
billion needed by WFP to reach the most vulnerable and hungry
people there in 2005. Overall food needs in Africa represent two
thirds of WFP's global requirements.
This stands in stark contrast to the almost full funding pledged
towards the UN's tsunami appeal for US$977 million, launched in
January. The cost of assisting a tsunami survivor is estimated at
US$1.07 per person per day in 2005 under the joint UN appeal
compared with just US$0.16 per person for assistance in Africa.
For the 26 December tsunami, WFP appealed for food for up to two
million people and has received full funding for that at US$0.51
per person per day.
Overshadowed by news of the tsunami and the outpouring of
international assistance, the Sudanese government and Sudan
People's Liberation Movement signed an agreement on 9 January to
end Africa's longest-running civil war. Both sides to the conflict
have warned that the peace could still be lost if the international
community fails to help.
After donors have invested billions of dollars in humanitarian aid
for Sudan over the past three decades, WFP's current emergency
operation to help people return home and rebuild their lives this
year is ironically funded at just 7 percent with a massive
shortfall of US$279 million.
Rations for Sudanese and other refugees in Ethiopia have been
slashed by 30 percent as a result of funding shortages.
In addition, in five countries across southern Africa, 5.6 million
people are struggling against the triple threat of HIV/AIDS, food
insecurity and their dwindling capacity to produce food. WFP has so
far received less than 10 percent of the contributions needed to
help them survive through 2007.
WFP was forced to cut rations for more than 2.8 million people in
southern Africa in the second half of 2004 because of a shortage of
funds. Many of those beneficiaries are living with HIV/AIDS and
many are children - those who can least afford to miss meals, and
for whom malnutrition can have irreversible consequences.
As stability returns to West Africa, there is an urgent need to
restore communities and secure peace after over a decade of war.
WFP's operation in Liberia is suffering from serious shortfalls and
since June last year the agency has had to reduce rations for
hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people. Many of
them would like to go home, but with their homes and farms
destroyed during the war, they will need food aid to tide them over
until they can produce enough food for themselves.
"Every child, no matter where they live, deserves the same care and
concern," said Morris. "Whether they are in Sri Lanka and
Indonesia, or Uganda and Ethiopia, children urgently need our help.
I very much hope that the scale of support following the tsunami
bodes well for those in need in Africa too."
Security Council Consultations:
Humanitarian Challenges in Africa
Statement by Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
27 Jan 2005
[excerpts: full statement available in Word format on OCHA website
Overview of Major Challenges
Despite all our efforts, the impact of the conflicts in Africa on
civilians is still as devastating as it has been for many months,
in some cases years. In December, fighting in Eastern DRC - in the
area around Kanyabayonga in North Kivu - led to the displacement of
more than 150,000 people, the evacuation of humanitarian workers,
and the suspension of supplementary feeding for about 1,300
children. MONUC's deployment of a buffer force has allowed some of
the displaced to return, but this massive displacement within a few
days again showed the appalling levels of violence that is being
directed at civilians in this part of the DRC. It seems that few
combatants were actually killed or wounded during this incident.
The cumulative effect of the conflict in DRC on the civilian
population, however, is staggering: more than 3.8 million people
killed since 1998. This amounts to the toll of more than a dozen
Tsunamis. With an estimated 1,000 people dying in DRC every day,
most due to easily preventable and treatable illnesses, a death
toll of Tsunami proportions is reached about every six months.
In Darfur, the violence also continues, still forcing tens of
thousands to flee their villages and even their IDP camps in the
last two months. Last week, almost 10,000 fled a number of villages
in northern areas of South Darfur to seek safety and assistance in
Manawashi and Mershing. In one destroyed village alone, Hamada, it
appears that more than 100 civilians were killed, the majority of
them women and children. All sides are heavily armed, despite the
arms embargo imposed by this Council last July, and the fighting
may well escalate again. The high level of insecurity, particularly
in South and West Darfur, is severely limiting our ability to reach
hundreds of thousands of people who depend on our assistance to
survive. In December, WFP managed to reach 1.5 million people, a
significant achievement, but still 500,000 less than the target for
December. In January, they have reached about 900,000 so far, only
about 50 percent of their target. The access problems are resulting
in significant shortfalls in other critical sectors as well,
affecting several hundred thousand IDPs and host communities.
What we have been witnessing in Darfur, large parts of Somalia, the
Pool region of the Republic of Congo and several other
conflict-affected parts of the continent is a deadly combination:
insecurity, limited access, and massive humanitarian needs that
keep rising as we struggle to catch up.
Apart from conflict, recurrent droughts continue to take their toll
in the Horn of Africa. In Eritrea alone, some 2.2 million people
out of a total population of 3.8 million need food assistance, and
the maternal malnutrition rate of 53 percent is among the highest
in the world. Similarly, in Somalia and Ethiopia, successive
seasons of drought have led to loss of assets, livestock and severe
food insecurity in many parts of both countries.
Last, but by no means least, there are six million people in six
countries in Southern Africa who will be unable to meet their food
needs this year, primarily as result of the "triple threat" of food
insecurity, HIV/AIDS and weakened capacity for governance. Most
destructive is the impact of HIV/AIDS. Last year alone, AIDS caused
close to one million deaths in the region. In Southern Africa,
there are now four million orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS alone,
giving rise to the sad phenomenon of "child-headed households",
left on their own, shunned by neighbors, often HIV-infected, with
no protection and little access to the basics for survival.
Varied Response by the International Community
How the international community has responded to each of the
humanitarian crises in Africa varies greatly, resulting in gross
inequities that we must find new and more effective ways of
addressing. The chart we distributed shows the funding UN agencies
and NGOs received for each of the consolidated appeals in Africa
for 2004. The coverage ranges from less than 10 percent for
Zimbabwe and less than 40 percent for the Central African Republic
and Cote D'Ivoire, to around three quarters of the appeals met for
Sudan, Chad and Uganda. Without a doubt, the Security Council
helped galvanize the attention and funding we were able to generate
for the crises in Darfur and northern Uganda last year.
I would like to make two specific observations regarding these
figures. The first relates to the situations in Chad and Guinea,
two of the poorest countries in Africa, that have been hosting
large refugee populations. The international response to the needs
of the refugees by and large has been generous. But the political
and humanitarian impact on the two host countries and their
populations has been great, and severely neglected. For example,
vital projects in Guinea Forestiere aimed at economic recovery and
rehabilitation received no funding at all in 2004. Many agencies
have had similar difficulties trying to assist the host communities
in eastern Chad. This kind of imbalance is not only inequitable, it
is also a recipe for rising tension between refugees and host
communities, further instability in already fragile countries, and
potential threats to regional peace and security. We know from
bitter experience what the potential consequences are, so we need
to provide much greater assistance to those host countries and
communities, both in terms of humanitarian relief and political
The second point relates to the funding levels for appeals in
several countries that have peacekeeping operations. It is very
troubling that in 2004 the appeals for Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire and
Liberia were all less than 50 percent funded (44, 34 and 48
percent, respectively). These countries are on the Council's agenda
and do not easily fit into the "forgotten emergency" category, and
yet their appeals have been so severely underfunded. We know that
each of these countries is in a critical phase and could easily
slide back into conflict, joining the 44 percent of post-conflict
countries that do so. The underfunding of essential humanitarian
activities greatly exacerbates this risk, particularly when we are
unable to assist in the return and reintegration of IDPs and
refugees, or in the reintegration of former combatants. In Liberia,
only about 12,000 of the 500,000 IDPs, and a few thousand of the
360,000 refugees have returned so far. These numbers are expected
to multiply in 2005 and we will have to be ready to assist those
returning and their home communities. For the rehabilitation and
reintegration of former combatants, agencies in Liberia face a
funding shortfall of almost 60 million US dollars, leaving about
47,000 combatants outside the programme. As in so many other
countries emerging from conflict, they are the most restive and
violence-prone segment of the community, and pose a serious threat
The international community is making huge investments in Liberia
and the other countries I mentioned. As Council members know well,
the peacekeeping operation in Liberia alone has an annual budget of
$820 million. But unless we also support the essential humanitarian
and recovery activities that help people return, ex-combatants
reintegrate, and give people hope for the future, these investments
are at risk, and costs can quickly multiply. We have to start
applying the bitter lessons we have learned, and make sure that all
parts of the international community pursue a more comprehensive
approach to these recurring challenges.
A very positive example has been the response of the international
community, led by this Council, in Sierra Leone. Over the last
three years close to 60,000 ex-combatants were disarmed,
demobilized and offered reintegration opportunities. A secure
environment throughout the country allowed essential public
services to resume, rehabilitation to take place at the community
level, and more than 500,000 refugees and IDPs to return. None of
these achievements would have been possible without the Security
Council's leadership, and the sustained engagement and support of
regional partners and donors.
The same is true for the peace between North and South Sudan, which
followed the historic Security Council meeting in Nairobi and years
of intense international and regional mediation efforts. But we now
have to gear up quickly, with the early support of donors, to make
sure that we rise to the many humanitarian challenges that will
result from the peace agreement. Again, helping millions to return
and tens of thousands of combatants to reintegrate into society
will be crucial to consolidate the peace in South Sudan.
Opportunities for Peace and "Humanitarian Dividends"
Let me now turn to some other encouraging developments,
particularly prospects for peace in two of the most intractable
conflicts in Africa. The humanitarian dividends that result from a
real prospect for a political settlement are almost always
immediate and substantial, and can quite literally be measured in
thousands of saved lives. Instead of running after increasing
levels of need while we have less and less access, needs start
stabilizing, levels of violence decrease, and humanitarian access
starts opening up. The recent progress made in Northern Uganda is
a case in point. Since I last briefed you about Northern Uganda in
October, the security environment has improved thanks largely to
the start of a dialogue between the Government and the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA). The level of violence is substantially lower
that in the past two years, and the number of IDPs has fallen from
1.6 to 1.3 million people.
The ongoing efforts provide the best opportunity in more than a
decade to bring the conflict to an end. ...
The United Nations stands ready to do its part. When I met with
President Museveni in Kampala in early December, we agreed on an
overall framework of assistance, to be led by the UN, if and when
an agreement is reached with the LRA. The UN will continue to play
the lead role in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected
population in the north and planning for the possible return of
IDPs, as well as organize and support reintegration efforts for
child combatants and provide support for a reconciliation processes
among various sectors of society in northern Uganda.
Somalia is the other long-standing and almost forgotten
humanitarian emergency where we now have the best chance in many
years to make real progress. Humanitarian indicators in many parts
of Somalia are as bad as anywhere in Africa, as I could witness
first-hand during my visit in early December. Mortality rates in
some areas reach two per ten thousand per day and only one Somali
child out of five is in school. Securing access is a daily struggle
involving multiple negotiations with a variety of armed groups and
clans. Despite all these constraints, it is remarkable what aid
agencies have been able to achieve even with the limited funding
available, as the Secretary-General has been reporting to you on a
But I believe that the time is right for the international
community to make a major coordinated push towards peace and
stability in Somalia. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity
presented by the formation of Transitional Federal Government
(TFG), despite the daunting challenges it is facing and recent
setbacks. Again, the potential humanitarian dividends are great if
security and access are improved and even the most basic
administration and essential services are restored, after 14 years
without a central government.
I would strongly encourage the Security Council to continue and
intensify its engagement with Somalia. The Council can help
generate the kind of sustained and coordinated commitment of member
states that we need to have a chance to succeed. While the AU and
IGAD will be critical to this effort, they will need to work hand
in hand with the Council, not least to attract the maximum level of
financial and diplomatic support, particularly for the envisaged
deployment of an AU peace support mission to Somalia. ...
Allow me to conclude with two comments related to the Tsunami and
the unprecedented speed and generosity of the international
community's response, including dozens of governments and private
contributions from hundreds of thousands of individuals around the
First, as I have been saying since the very beginning of this
outpouring of assistance, we cannot allow any diversion of
assistance away from other humanitarian emergencies. ...
Second, the response to the Tsunami has shown all of us what is
possible when there is a will. I remember sitting in this very room
last summer asking for five helicopters to help save thousands of
lives in Darfur. In the end, we had to hire helicopters
commercially as no member states were willing to provide them.
After the Tsunami, I also appealed for helicopters and, within
days, saw the deployment of several helicopters carriers. Likewise,
never in the history of UN appeals have we been able to cover more
than 70 percent of our requirements in less than one week. It took
until well into the fall of last year to reach a similar level for
Darfur, despite the international attention that crisis received.
Some may say that these situations are not comparable, and that we
will never be able to marshal this kind of response for protracted
armed conflicts in Africa. I believe that, at the very least, we
must try our hardest, be innovative, and quickly build on what we
have witnessed over the last four weeks. We owe that to the
millions of civilians in the crises I have talked about this
morning who are just as innocent, and need our help every bit as
much as the millions affected by the Tsunami.
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