Monday June 24, 2019

Africa Aid Officials Concerned as U.S. government proposes severe cuts in Foreign Aid

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Acutely malnourished child is treated at the Banadir Hospital after her mother fled the drought in southern Somalia and traveled by car to the capital Mogadishu, March 11, 2017. VOA

US, As the U.S. government proposes severe cuts in foreign aid, Africa and its neighbors are experiencing a massive hunger crisis, with 20 million people facing possible starvation in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Aid officials say the proposed cuts would have a deep and disastrous impact in those countries and others. The United States is the largest single donor to the United Nations’ World Food Program, contributing just over $2 billion last year.

In dire times like these, says WFP East Africa spokeswoman Challiss McDonough, the aid agency needs more help than ever.

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Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, and in one remote village of 20,000 people, McDonough says, WFP’s meager food drops — consisting of a bit of sorghum, a handful of split peas and a few spoonfuls of vegetable oil — serve as a lifeline.

Women sit in line on the ground waiting to receive food distributed by the World Food Program (WFP) in Padeah, South Sudan, March 1, 2017. VOA

“Without those airdrops, if we weren’t able to keep those planes flying and to keep the food moving, to keep the helicopters flying, then people would literally have nothing,” she told VOA from Nairobi, Kenya. “The only thing that is standing between them and catastrophe is the food assistance that we can bring to them.”

That word — catastrophe — has come up often in global reactions to the proposed U.S. budget, which seeks a nearly 30 percent reduction in international programs, like the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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In a statement, the president and CEO of aid agency Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, said, “These cuts will be catastrophic for millions of families in developing countries,” adding that U.S. aid has had a massive global impact in the last two decades, reducing childhood deaths by more than 50 percent.

Ben Parker, a London-based editor and analyst with IRIN, a news agency specializing in humanitarian issues, says the international aid community is readying itself for a “shock” over the loss of aid.

“It’s going to hurt,” he said, “and it’s going to have consequences we’re not even sure about at this point when you look at the scale of the cuts, potentially, particularly to the U.N., which the administration has a particular lack of appetite for.” (VOA)

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Report: 1.8 Millions in Central African Republic Suffering Acute Food Shortages

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end

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FILE - Children recovering from malnutrition play at the Children hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. VOA

A new report finds nearly half of all people in the Central African Republic are suffering acute food shortages. The latest assessment by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a joint effort by eight U.N. and International non-governmental organizations, finds more than 1.8 million people in C.A.R. are facing an emergency food crisis.

Civil war in the Central African Republic erupted in December 2013 and continues to take a heavy toll on its people.  The country is in the midst of its so-called lean season, which goes from May to August.

This is the period between harvests when people have depleted their food stocks and hunger is particularly acute. The World Food Program reports nearly 2 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from during this period.

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The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war. Wikimedia Commons

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end.

“Nearly 1.35 million people—almost 30 percent of the population analyzed—will be in severe acute food insecurity including nearly 275,000 people in emergency during the harvest period, meaning September and October,” Verhoosel says.

The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war.  Nearly 700,000 people remain displaced within the C.A.R.

The signing of a peace agreement in the capital Bangui in February gave rise to hopes the crisis in the country would soon be at an end.  Security conditions remain volatile, however, and attacks are continuing with increased ferocity in several parts of the country where armed groups that did not sign on to the agreement are in control.

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The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month. Wikimedia Commons

Ongoing insecurity is hampering humanitarian operations and making it difficult, if not impossible, to provide food and other crucial aid to the civilians caught in the midst of this violence.

ALSO READ: WHO: Millions of People with Epilepsy Reluctant to Seek Treatment Because of Stigma

The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month.  Verhoosel says WFP and its partners are trying to reach more people in urgent need of aid.

He says internally displaced people and refugees are the most vulnerable.  He says they are totally dependent upon international assistance to meet their food and nutritional needs. (VOA)