The number of children fleeing violence and famine in South Sudan passed 1 million, two U.N. agencies announced today. Children make up more than 60 percent of the 1.8 million refugees from the world’s youngest country. Families face physical harm, psychological trauma, hunger – leaving an entire generation at risk of falling so far behind that they will never be able to catch up.
There are now 1.4 million children facing acute malnutrition in Somalia, a 50 percent increase since the start of the year, according to UNICEF. The U.N. agency is concerned by what it calls the “triple threat of drought, disease and displacement” Somali children face.
Two officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are traveling to East Africa this week to meet with governments and humanitarian actors about the emerging hunger crises in the region. They arrive at a time when $4.4 billion is needed to help some 20 million people, and the Trump administration is seeking to cut the foreign aid budget.
Hussein Dirie stands alone in a village he has known and lived in all his life. Outside of Somaliland’s bustling towns and cities, a pastoralist’s life is destroyed by a drought more unrelenting than he has ever known. Across Somalia and Somaliland, the U.N. estimates that 6 million people are in need of help. The drought is more severe and more extreme than any drought on record, and, so far, it shows no sign of ending while the U.N.’s Somalia appeal remains half-funded.
For this week’s Humanosphere podcast we’ll be speaking to Duncan Harvey, Save the Children’s country director in Kenya, about the impact of drought in the country. We’re speaking from Wajir, a border town near the Somali border in the far-east corner of Kenya – which is one of the worst affected.
Despite dire warnings recently from humanitarian agencies, thousands of children remain severely malnourished and remain vulnerable to cholera, diarrhea and other diseases in Somalia; the international community is not prepared.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst drought in decades. Rain shortages since October have created a humanitarian and economic crisis that is now affecting more than 1.2 million people. More than 900,000 people are in “urgent need of food assistance,” while 80,000 of them may need “urgent life-saving support,” according to a March 7 draft assessment acquired by IRIN.
An extreme weather phenomenon in Mongolia that is expected to occur only about once a decade is now threatening the lives and livelihoods of herders for the second winter in a row. The a severe winter following a summer drought – called dzud – has created “an unfolding humanitarian crisis,” according the latest U.N. update, with more than 157,000 people affected across 17 out of 21 provinces.
The return of rain following the end of El Niño should be good news for farmers in Southern Africa. But a pest from the Americas is ruining everything. Countries recovering from the two-year long drought that caused widespread food insecurity now face a rapidly spreading crop killer. The invasive fall armyworm is destroying maize across the region and spreading quickly from country to country serving a “blow to prospects of recovery” for the region, says the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
From floods to drought – there’s no reprieve for Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, it will only get worse with climate change, unless the government commits to some immediate improvements.