West Africa Hunger Alert

Posted by: | Posted on: July 31, 2008

Political crises and civil conflicts have plagued the Mano River countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and, most recently, Cote d’Ivoire – for many years, leaving a trail of hungry internally displaced persons and refugees in their wake.

It is estimated that 791,000 IDPs and refugees need food aid across the West Africa coastal region.

Sierra Leone’s brutal war was officially declared over in January 2002, with the disarmament of 47,000 ex-combatants under a UN-brokered deal.

But peace is fragile in the world’s poorest country and food aid is essential to ensure peace lasts as thousands of refugees try to rebuild their shattered lives.

Fighting has once again flared up Liberia, forcing some 135,000 people to flee their homes. With no political solution in sight, the humanitarian situation is expected to remain critical throughout 2003.

Many IDPs now live in abandoned buildings, warehouses and out in the open air. Others have crossed the border into Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, threatening to further undermine these countries’ own chances of recovery.

The situation is also tense in Guinea, where WFP is providing food aid to more than 90,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees. Tens of thousands of Guineans, mainly farmers forced to abandon their land by fighting, are also on the move.

Cote d’Ivoire: until recently, Cote d’Ivoire was one of west Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations. But last September 19’s army mutiny has seen insurgents take over the north and centre of the country and the uprising is now threatening to spill over into a region-wide crisis.

The parties to the fighting are implementing a fragile peace agreement, but sporadic fighting continues.

Some 200,000 people are believed to have fled the second city of Bouake since insurgents captured it along with most of the north; another 120,000, mainly west African migrants workers, have crossed the border into Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea Conakry and Liberia.

In response to the unfolding crisis in Côte d’Ivoire and its humanitarian implications for neighbouring countries, WFP has launched a regional Emergency Operation to assist over 170,000 victims of the civil unrest.

Life-saving operations in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries includes:

Distribution of emergency rations for displaced people, refugees, asylum seekers and evacuees (people returning to their country of origin).

Curative interventions, such as therapeutic & supplementary feeding for severely and moderately malnourished children.

Emergency school-feeding for primary school children in areas affected by severe food shortage due to the conflict.

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