U.N. Mobilizes Concern for Humanitarian Crises in Africa

The world body seeks $1.5 billion in emergency funding for 2012 to help avert a human catastrophe in Somalia, says fighting in southern Sudan is worsening.

Posted: 12/14/2011 05:31 PM EST
Somalia

Separate humanitarian crises in Somalia and Sudan have led the United Nations to issue fresh appeals for global concern and emergency assistance to those war-torn countries.

 

The world body announced Tuesday that it is seeking $1.5 billion in emergency funding for the coming year to address the ongoing famine in Somalia, where some 4 million people are in crisis. Although the U.N. reported in November that the situation had improved in three regions of Somalia, tens of thousands of people remain at risk of starvation, according to Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia.

 

For two decades Somalia has been plagued by political instability, terrorism, piracy at sea and armed conflict between Black African nations such as Kenya and al-Shabab, a militant Islamic group in Somalia that has also prevented food supplies from being distributed. A severe drought earlier this year caused famine that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Somalia and brought more than 3.2 million others to the brink of starvation.

 

"The Somalia crisis is everybody's responsibility and Somalis need support now. We cannot afford to wait or we will let down the Somali people," Bowden told the AFP news agency.

 

Meanwhile, the crisis in Sudan continues to worsen as the United Nations announced on Tuesday hundreds of thousands of people have been severely affected by the conflict in the country’s southern border states, to which the government continues to deny the world body access.

 

"We ... consider that there are about a quarter of a million people who have been severely affected" by the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, Mark Cutts, the U.N. humanitarian agency's head of office in Sudan, said.

 

The fighting in the border state of South Kordofan erupted in June, prior to the formal independence of the south, between the Sudanese army and SPLA fighters, or ex-southern rebels who turned against the regular army.

 

As a result, there have been several severe disruptions to the farming cycle, which is driving the region’s growing food insecurity. Additionally, despite the fighting and interruptions in the food supply, the Sudanese government has barred international aid workers, including all UN agencies, from all parts of Sudan, including hospitals, health centers and schools that have been damaged. This has impacted nutrition levels and mortalities among children, whose demographic has already been the victim of more than 50 reportedly killed or wounded by aerial bombardment or crossfire.

 

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(Photo:  ABDURASHID ABIKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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