As conflicts in Libya move towards the capital, Tripoli, humanitarian organizations are working to help refugees in Tripoli. Thousands of residents in Tripoli are deserting their homes as the impending fighting poses safety concerns.

Since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, factions in Libya have battled for control of the country. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by commander Khalifa Haftar is on the march to take territory from the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Now the LNA is moving closer to Tripoli, at times as close as seven miles south of the city.

The international community, such as the United Nations (U.N.), the U.S. government, and the European Union (EU) are concerned about Tripoli. In fact, these organizations are appealing for a ceasefire to avoid a bloody battle for the Libyan capital. The U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, told reporters “We have a very dangerous situation and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it.” U.N. workers have been meeting with faction members in an attempt to bring together a peace process that eventually results in elections.

Increasing Refugees in Tripoli

Meanwhile, refugees in Tripoli, many of whom were in detention centers, are moving away from the capital to safe zones. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has already relocated more than 150 refugees.

In general, Libya is a major transit point for refugees from Africa trying to relocate to Europe. As a result of the conflicts in Tripoli, migration to Europe is increasing, as displacement is also increasing. In total, the U.N. reports 6,000 displaced peoples from Tripoli.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Food Stability

The U.N. is increasing the humanitarian response to help refugees in Tripoli. So far, 58 families have been evacuated. Additionally, the U.N. has established 12 shelters across Tripoli. They are working with the municipalities to find spaces for additional facilities. They anticipate that as the frontline shifts, some shelters will end up inside the conflict zone.

Together, the U.N. and the World Food Program (WFP), has collected enough food supplies to sustain 80,000 people for two weeks. That being said, as part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), the WFP and other humanitarian partners are planning to distribute two-week dry rations to 100 displaced households.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Health

The U.N. has medical supplies stockpiled in four sites to provide treatment for up to 210,000 people. Six EMT teams are working across Libya to assist various hospitals. So far 15 civilian casualties have been recorded and verified by the U.N. A branch of the U.N., the U.N.’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene team (WASH) have hygiene kits stocked for up to 24,000 people.

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing field hospitals, ambulances, and medical supplies. Dr. Sayed Jaffar Hussain, the WHO representative in Libya, implored the global humanitarian community to help, saying, “We fear that prolonged conflict will lead to more casualties, drain the area’s limited supplies and further damage health infrastructure… We call on the international community to ensure adequate funding to support the current crisis.”

U.N.’s WASH is also working on the logistics of treating, storing and transporting water to different areas of Tripoli. Addressing these goals include utilizing collapsible water tanks, water trucks and purifying tablets. They are also working to negotiate with armed groups for the protection of water shipments, advocating that water should not be used as a weapon.

Humanitarian Efforts Addressing Safety

UNICEF is monitoring detention centers and providing child protection services. Additionally, the U.N.’s Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing safe spaces and psycho-social support to help prevent gender-based violence and provide treatment for victims.

In unison, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with the U.N. to find places for displaced people. In addition, the IOM and the U.N. are helping some families set up private accommodations or relocate to family members.

The safety and well being of refugees in Tripoli are progressing, as the conflict rages closer to the Lybian capital. However, as the international humanitarian community recognizes Libya’s need for aid, they are working to prepare a multi-faceted response to help those in need.

– Peter S. Mayer
Photo: Flickr

effects of el nino
The 2015-2016 El Nino climate pattern was one of the most extreme occurrences in years, affecting almost 60 million people, more than half of whom live in Africa. The effects of El Nino created extreme weather changes, ranging from severe drought to severe flooding. These changes posed drastic problems for the population. Drought caused food insecurity and poverty due to crop failure, and flooding created problems with sanitation and increased the spread of water-borne and communicable diseases. Furthermore, flooding threatened infrastructure and housing. The damage also restricted access to healthcare facilities, preventing victims from receiving the help they need.

The Effects of El Nino on Africa

In Southern Africa, El Nino-related droughts had led to massive crop failure. South Africa had a 25 percent drop in maize and a 23 percent drop in grain production. Maize prices were the highest they had ever been following the drop. The drought aggravated the existing food insecurity, with 14 million people already hungry and as crop failure continued, the number of people at risk of hunger increased.

Most El Nino effects are related to soil dryness or reduced rainfall, but in 2016, this occurrence resulted in a massive drought. In Cambodia, 2.5 million people were left without access to clean water. People had to travel long distances in search of clean and drinkable water after the wells and ponds had dried up. In South Africa, parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, these effects of El Nino are still posing problems. In past years, most food production decreases have corresponded to El Nino, regardless of its magnitude.

The Effects of El Nino on South-East Asia

South-East Asia faced droughts and below-average rainfall as well. Thailand had faced its most severe drought in 20 years during the 2015-2016 El Nino. Water levels in dams throughout the country fell below 10 percent, leading to Thailand pumping water from nearby rivers. The Mae Jok Luang Reservoir, for example, typically served 11 sectors and can now, as a result of El Nino, can only serve one.

The droughts hit farmers hard, causing mass crop failure. Rice production and exports especially had gone down in Thailand. Consequently, many farmers found themselves in debt and unable to pay back loans. To deal with financial stress, many Filipino farmers started sending their children into town to work instead of going to school. Indigenous farmers turned to odd jobs as well, giving up on trying to farm in the drought.

The Effects of El Nino on Latin America

Effects of El Nino on Latin America often vary, and in 2016, there were droughts in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America as well as floods in Argentina and parts of Peru and Chile. Areas like Brazil had an increase in wildfires and tropical storms as a result of El Nino. Similar to South-East Asia, farming and fishing industries faced decreased production and exports during El Nino.

This was not the first time that El Nino has harmed the health and population of South American fisheries. The 1972 El Nino played a major role in the collapse of the Peruvian fishery, the largest fishery in the world at the time. With less fish, the population of seabirds also decreased, which damaged the seabird-dependent fertilizer industry. The impact on agricultural production led to higher food prices and lower food availability.

As a result of El Nino, 2.3 million people in Central America needed food assistance in 2015-16. The weather conditions also posed a great threat to civilians. Peru declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces where the lives of two million people had been at risk of mudslides and flooding. In October 2015, 500 people in Guatemala City died because of widespread mudslides.

Aid for Countries Affected by El Nino

Fortunately, there are organizations working to combat the effects of El Nino. Care, a nongovernmental organization, for example, has distributed food and emergency supplies to drought-ridden countries. In Cambodia, Care distributed water tanks and filters to the most affected areas. They had continued aid well into 2017.

While the work of organizations like Care is valuable, long-term plans to combat general climate change is necessary for countries to prepare for future climate change events. The results and effects of global warming and weather changes can be felt throughout the whole world, and the countries that suffer the most are usually less developed ones that do not have the right tools to combat this issue. People need to start taking climate issues seriously before it becomes too late to recover from these effects.

– Massarath Fatima

Photo: Flickr

the holdout province
While the world has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the September agreement made by Turkey and Russia – thus halting the advance of troops, the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has yet to exhale. It remains one of the last rebel strongholds in the conflict. As world leaders work to decide Idlib’s political future, many workers toil to provide aid in the holdout province.

Aid in the Holdout Province

Presently the area known as the holdout province is home to three million people. There are around 1.5 million people living in the area who are internally displaced, having fled to escape previous rounds of fighting. This influx of people has stretched already scarce resources (housing, food and medicine) even more thinly.

The United Nations has been doing its part to help, both inside and out of the diplomatic arena. By running cross-border operations from Turkey, the U.N. has organized a convoy of more than 1,000 trucks to deliver winter supplies, such as blankets, coats, boats, gas stoves and plastic shelter materials. As winter approaches and nightly temperatures become cold – especially for those without proper housing – many will be glad to have the extra warmth.

Through its food assistance arm (The World Food Program or WFP), the U.N. is also doing what it can to give food aid in the holdout province. In October alone, the WFP was able to feed 3.2 million people. Food deliveries were able to reach 14 Syrian provinces, including the more isolated areas of Syria like the Aleppo, rural Damascus and Ar-Raqqa governorates, which fed almost 291,865. Specific packages addressing malnutrition and nutrient deficiency were provided to more than 100,000 children – reaching many in the holdout governorate.

Medical and Psychological Care

Medical attention is difficult to find in any conflict; keeping facilities well supplied and away from the fighting can be an impossible task. In September, four hospitals were damaged in attacks. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is combating this shortage, supporting ten health facilities, as well as two mobile clinics and four emergency response teams. The teams deliver kits stocked with clothing and sanitary supplies. Through the IRC’s efforts, 860,000 patients were treated in 2017, with 80,000 people being treated every month.

Still, while it’s easy to focus on the physical (visible) needs of survivors, the emotional needs of children often – out of necessity – go overlooked. However, the IRC operates a safe space that gives psychosocial support to children as well as providing the children with a place to learn and play. In the future, the IRC plans to distribute kits containing games, books and learning aid through this center. As a consequence of war, children are exposed to the harsh realities of life in a conflict zone; they are denied an education that would enable them to succeed as adults in peacetime. Even small learning toys and aids make a significant difference in light of the alternatives.

Current Negotiations

With the conflict stretching into its eighth year, recent peace talks have been referred to as “a glimmer of hope” by high ranking U.N. members. Syrian representatives have agreed to send 50 representatives to the negotiating committee, and have agreed to speak with 50 representatives from the opposition. Unfortunately, they have refused to ratify any representatives of Syrian civil society in the negotiations. Only fair, fully-represented and public negotiations can truly end the suffering in the country. Until then, aid in the holdout province must continue in order to help these refugees survive.

– John Glade
Photo: Flickr

High Energy Biscuit
The World Food Program (WFP) High Energy Biscuit is pre-packaged and full of high-protein cereals, micronutrients and vegetable fat and requires zero preparation to be consumed. This food product extends to all groups suffering from hunger — women, children, infants, the elderly, those struggling with disease and communities in rural, underdeveloped regions, such as the Philippines, Kenya, North Korea and Afghanistan.

The biscuits serve as a lifesaving snack to survivors of natural disasters, conflicts and contain a multitude of healthy ingredients to keep individuals, especially children, strong and focused in school.

In 2014, WFP distributed its “biscuit-factory-in-a-box,” which, along with the WFP High Energy Biscuit, contains a variety of foods that are delivered to the world’s hungry. This includes fortified blends, or “mixtures of partially precooked and milled cereals, soya and beans that have been infused with micronutrients for additional health benefits.”

The primarily blended food produced by WFP is corn soya blend, cooked with water to create a warm, nourishing porridge. The blends not only provide protein supplements but also prevent and address nutritional deficiencies. Ready-To-Use Foods are also transported, typically to treat malnutrition among children between the ages of six months and five years old.

These products are easily accessible for poor families who lack access to running water or electricity, as they do not require heat or water to cook. The oil-based, low moisture consistency prevents bacterial contamination and gives them a long shelf life.

The successful impact of the WFP High Energy Biscuit and how much this program has grown since it was initially created has been documented over the years. Individuals who have benefited from the foods include more than 200,000 flood victims from Kenya, as well as 850,000 primary school children in North Korea, where the attendance rate has increased as a result of the incredible amount of aid offered to schools in the local area.

Most recently noted, the WFP High Energy Biscuit made its way to the people affected by the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the city of Tacloban. In the early days of the emergency response, the biscuits made a big difference and served as a light, convenient form of food aid. WFP has extended its operating locations, with one particular factory in Kabul, Afghanistan as the newest supplier for the WFP High Energy Biscuit.

WFP shows workers in new locations how to make the biscuits using local ingredients. This provides food for more people living in impoverished locations while stimulating the economies of these regions.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Burundi
A decade of social and political conflict has left Burundi, a landlocked country in east-central Africa, facing increasing levels of food insecurity. With a dense population of 11.8 million people, many citizens are facing poverty and malnutrition: Burundi is considered to be in the ninth-worst food security crisis in the world. Here are 5 facts regarding the situation of hunger in Burundi.

5 Facts About Hunger in Burundi

  1. Burundi is ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. As of 2019, more than 65% of Burundians live below the poverty line. More than 50% are chronically hungry, and the total annual production of food in Burundi would only cover 55 days per person per year.
  2. Burundian citizens rely on agriculture. About 80% rely on farming to meet their food needs. Due to the average of 248 people per square mile in Burundi and the annual 3% increase in population, the amount of farming land available is extremely limited, reducing the total capacity of food production.
  3. Only 1/3 of Burundian children complete middle school. Children in poverty are often taken out of school to work in the fields, which perpetuates the cycle of under-education and poverty. The World Food Program is working to support schoolchildren by providing them with meals, their program reaching about 600,000 children every day to help ensure that they stay in the classroom.
  4.  The World Food Program is helping to support farmers in Burundi. The World Food Program has been working since 1968 to combat hunger in Burundi, which includes supporting smallholder farmers. The program works to build systems that combine smallholders’ produce and improve food management after harvest.
  5. The Terintambwe ‘Take a Step Forward’ program has been working to combat hunger and poverty in Burundi. This program, which focuses on providing skills training, income support and capital transfers to help participants start their own small businesses, is working to improve lives in Burundi. According to a report by the Global Hunger Index, the number of adult participants eating only one meal a day at baseline dropped from 81% at the beginning of the program to 8% at the end of the program.

Burundian citizens suffering from poverty and hunger are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Organizations such as the World Food Program and the Terintambwe ‘Take a Step Forward’ program are working to reduce hunger in Burundi, and both seek out voluntary donations to fund their programs. Support of governmental institutions in Burundi such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Solidarity and the Ministry of Gender are also essential to reducing hunger in Burundi. With these steps in place, the work to improve the lives of Burundian citizens can begin.

Ayesha Asad
Photo: FreeImages

Hunger in TurkeyTurkey has a rich history of being a global leader in humanitarian efforts to reduce poverty. The nation is now one of the World Food Program’s (WFP) largest contributors despite needing aid about ten years ago. 

However, Turkey still has a long way to go to reduce poverty and hunger domestically — malnutrition is prevalent in its rural regions.

The rural poverty rate in Turkey is 35% compared to the urban poverty rate of 22%. The extreme poverty rate in rural households is at the root of growing hunger in Turkey.

Living in poverty impacts food security, secure employment, education and healthcare — all of which are easier to attain in urban regions of Turkey.

The recent influx of Syrian refugees also placed pressure on food security in Turkey. Turkish communities hosting Syrian refugees have expanded by up to 30%, which increased competition for employment and increased rent prices.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) implemented a plan in 2006 that focused on job-creation to bolster economic prosperity and improve living standards in rural areas to address hunger in Turkey.

The IFAD plan aims to increase participation in Turkey’s labor force by supporting small businesses and encouraging self-employment that generates incremental income.

This strategy also works to improve agricultural initiatives in remote areas of Turkey through the spread of farm mechanization and processing plants.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Ardahan-Kars-Artvin Development Project (AKADP) to further reduce poverty in Turkey.

By working with local farmers from rural, eastern provinces of Turkey, the AKADP would introduce and encourage sustainable agricultural practices to reduce rural poverty and hunger in Turkey.

The AKADP claims to benefit those living in rural Turkey by increasing livestock and crop productivity, improving knowledge of farm management and strengthening both economic and social infrastructure.

Turkey is making remarkable advances toward reducing hunger because of the UNDP and IFAD projects. The WFP recently acknowledged Turkey for reducing its total undernourished population by half.

The IFAD also recognized Turkey as one of the 79 developing countries that achieved their hunger target of reducing malnutrition and the proportion of underweight children under five years old.

The Turkish government and humanitarian organizations have made it a priority to continue to uplift those in rural areas out of poverty. It is possible to reduce hunger in Turkey by investing in rural areas, which will help its inhabitants forge brighter futures.

Mariana Camacho

Photo: Flickr

AirdropJust after the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Stephen O’Brien, told the U.N. Security Council that an airdrop would be carrying immediate humanitarian aid to the city of Deir Ezzor in Syria, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that the airdrop landed unsuccessfully.

The Justice for Life Observatory in Deir Ezzor said that “the cargo was significantly damaged” and that most of the containers fell into remote areas.

The U.N. estimates that more than 480,000 Syrians live in besieged areas, with four million people in areas difficult to reach. “The U.N. is calling on all sides to lift starvation sieges across Syria, where it estimates that 487,000 people live, although some non-governmental organizations say the figure is much higher,” writes AFP.

Additionally, the U.N. confirmed that there are approximately 200,000 Syrians living in Deir Ezzor. A recent U.N. report showed that those in besieged areas suffer from harsh and worsening conditions and that many have died from starvation, according to the BBC.

The WFP had previously ruled out airdrops as a method of delivering aid to Syria due to the difficulties involved in securing flyover rights, locating viable drop zones and arranging distribution on the ground, reports the BBC.

The British government, likewise, has called air drops “high risk” and says that they should only be used as a last resort.

“The operation faced technical difficulties and we are debriefing crew and partners in Deir Ezzor to make necessary adjustments,” the WFP told IRIN. “The team will try again when possible…high altitude drops are extremely challenging to carry out and take more than one trial to develop full accuracy,” commented the WFP spokesperson.

Moreover, the Local Coordination Committees activist network reported that the Syrian army might have seized part of the aid.

Specialists are still skeptical of continuing with airdrops, specifically because, as claimed by IRIN, “between 480,000 and two million Syrians are living under siege (the numbers differ depending on who is counting), and until recent talks led by the US and Russia, aimed at a partial ceasefire and better humanitarian access, aid organizations had effectively ruled them out because aid drops, even at low altitude, are notoriously difficult to carry out.”

Whether or not the operation continues is yet to be seen but reports have confirmed that there are still difficulties with immediate humanitarian aid reaching besieged areas.

Isabella Rolz

Sources: BBC , IRIN, AFP

Attending School = Having Food in Egypt
In June 2015, the European Union funded a project for the World Food Programme (WFP) that encourages 100,000 children in Egypt to attend school.

The four-year project, called Enhancing Access of Children to Education and Fighting Child Labour aims to offer children, especially girls, incentives to pursue education.

Fifteen percent of children in Egypt eventually end up working to help support their families. The WFP’s goal of feeding children in Egypt to boost attendance rates involves providing snacks and take-home rations for children who maintain an 80 percent school attendance rate.

The daily in-school snack, date bars, offers valuable vitamins and minerals for students. For most children, the bars are their first meal of the day. The take-home rations of rice and oil equal the value of what children could earn from a month of work.

By using food incentives, WFP hopes to encourage parents to send children to school instead of out to work. In addition, they hope to break the patriarchal idea where young girls are solely expected to stay home and be married.

“The concept they have is the girl is going to get married and stay home, so if they need to get one of their children educated, they’re going to focus on the boys. With our project, we focus on the girls because we feel we are their chance to get an education,” says Amina Al Korey, communications officer for WFP in Egypt.

The girls get first priority registering for the community schools supported by the WFP and supervised by the Egyptian Ministry of Education. Boys can be admitted but only if spots still remain.

Larry Summers, former World Bank chief economist says, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.”

Girls who attend school will make up to 25 percent more in wages in the future, be healthier and more capable of supporting a family, and could even save malnourished children, simply by being given a secondary education.

Al Korey says, “Whenever I speak to the girls, they’re always just so enthusiastic about actually going to school. They don’t just feel good about getting an education and getting a chance to take a different path.”

WFP also plans to support mothers with income-generating projects, such as breeding goats, making soaps and selling and growing vegetables.

Lubna Alaman, WFP’s representative and county director in Egypt, says, “Through partnerships like this, WFP hopes to make a child’s simplest dream come true.”

At the conclusion of the four-year project, WFP hopes to see more girls excited about pursuing an education and bettering their future.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Takepart, WFP
Photo: Flickr

The United Nations World Food Program announced on Wednesday a shift from emergency response efforts to long-term recovery efforts in Nepal.

The announcement signaled an end to nearly two months of emergency response efforts conducted by both Nepal’s government and multiple allies from across the globe after a large portion of the country was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25.

Serving as the largest humanitarian aid agency in the world, the WFP works to assist nearly 100 million people in 75 countries each year and participates in fighting extreme poverty, providing emergency assistance and improving infrastructure and health systems within developing communities.

Richard Ragan, Emergency Coordinator for the WFP’s response in Nepal, stated in an interview this week, “We have started the difficult transition from the emergency period to the early recovery phase – providing cash, employment and rebuilding opportunities for people heavily impacted by the disaster.” Ragan noted that the WFP has successfully provided meals to nearly 2 million displaced citizens since the disaster.

The WFP has implemented a highly effective cash-for-work program in severely affected areas, which pays citizens to build transitional housing and repair agricultural centers and, in turn, revitalizes local markets and economies. The United Nations estimates that 20,000 porters who became displaced and unemployed by the earthquake are now receiving income to repair essential road and trail networks damaged by the disaster, as well as provide vital supplies to isolated communities.

Despite the positive figures offered by this UN program, the WFP warned this week that the operations currently being conducted within Nepal are only 38 percent funded and that they require an additional $74 million in order to continue providing operational assistance until 2016.

In response to questions about the lack of funding, Ragan stated, “To maintain and expand an operation of this scope and logistical complexity, sustained financial support is required.”

– James Thornton

Sources: United Nations, World Food Programme
Photo: Flickr

In order to earn a living in developing countries, many women have turned to farming. According to a recent report done by the Purchase for Progress program (P4P), women are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of food production in developing countries.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has helped these women with opportunities through its P4P program. Through this program WFP uses its purchasing power to bridge the gap for farmers who work on smaller scales. The program provides agricultural training and markets that will be reliable and profitable for their crops. Developed five years ago, P4P has since helped thousands of female farmers in 20 developing countries.

Five women have shared their personal involvement with P4P.  After the death of her husband, Chaltu Bultom Ede of Ethiopia became the head of the household. Through P4P, Ede learned basic business skills, received a loan and consequently was able to afford oxen and other necessities, like seeds and fertilizer for her farm.

Generoza Mukamazimpaka from Rwanda learned how to produce higher quality crops and through WFP she was able to sell them in competitive markets. With her money that she earned,  she bought a cow and uses its waste to make biogas, which in turn is used for cooking.

Carmelina Oloroso has also benefited from P4P. She has learned how to use effective agricultural techniques in Guatemala. Her new skills have tripled her production rate. She stores her profit in a savings account, which she recently used to buy extra land.

Koné Korotoumou, from Mali and Esinta Jickson, from Malawi have both experienced the empowerment and independence that P4P provides women.  Like Jickson put it, “We know we’re equal to the men, and that has improved our standing in the community.”

Brooke Smith

Sources: World Food Programme, ONE, World Food Programme 2
Photo: Flickr