Africa: Hunger crisis
Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades—immense in both its severity and geographic scope.Roughly 146 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. The crisis is driven by a range of local and global factors, including insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability and negative macroeconomic impacts. Through this regional Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting many Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Africa to protect the lives, livelihoods and prospects of millions of people.
| Press release
Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns
Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action.
Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed.
As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months.
Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle.
While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans.
Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
“Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.”
The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring.
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said:
“Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.”
The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care.
Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes:
In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day.
In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure.
In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan.
In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive.
In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years.
In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it.
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact:
IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40
ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56
ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12
Horn of Africa photos and b-roll
Pakistan floods photos and b-roll
Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll
Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll
“Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity”: Tackling food insecurity in Africa and beyond
Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon. But the recent escalation in severity and geographical spread of chronic hunger is serious cause for alarm.
The hunger crisis is most starkly felt on the African continent, where many regions, notably the Horn of Africa, Sahel and Lake Chad regions, are experiencing the worst food crisis in decades.
Millions of people are facing hunger across Africa—prompting the IFRC to launch Emergency Appeals for hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger and Angola all within the past year.
Back in May, I met some of those affected whilevisiting drought-affected areas in Marsabit County, Kenya—where levels of malnutrition are among the highest on the continent.
I saw first-hand the level of suffering caused by a severe lack of rainfall over four consecutive seasons, coupled with pre-existing vulnerability in parts of the County. Children, young mothers and the elderly are most affected and facing near depletion of their livelihoods.
Although this hunger crisis is, to a large extent, climate-induced, it is also driven by the effects of widespread locust swarms, disease outbreaks, conflict and insecurity, and economic slowdowns—including those triggered by COVID-19.
Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with prices of agricultural products reaching record highs. Eastern Africa, for instance, gets 90 per cent of its imported wheat from Russia and Ukraine (source: WFP), and the conflict has led to significant shortages. The Ukraine crisis has also diverted both the attention and resources from other crises.
While Ukraine is an extremely worrying crisis, affecting millions, we cannot afford to lose sight of other urgent crises around the world. Not least of which is the rapidly deteriorating food security situation in many parts of Africa. The clock is ticking and soon it may be too late to avert a widespread tragedy.
So the question that should concern us all is: what can we do, as a humanitarian collective, to avoid the tragic history of the early 1980s repeating itself?
We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people on the verge of collapsing, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.
The IFRC has an important and unique role to play. With our unparalleled community reach and expertise, our 100+ years of humanitarian experience, our ability to act both locally and globally, and our National Societies’ special status as auxiliaries to public authorities—we can turn this tide. But we need the resources to do so.
Our collective immediate priority is to muster life-saving support, within and outside our IFRC network, for the next six months—paying particular attention to the Horn of Africa, Central Sahel and other hot spots across the continent.
During this emergency phase, we will focus our support on the things we know from experience will make the most difference to affected people’s lives and livelihoods: food assistance, cash programmes and nutrition support.
At the same time, we will develop longer-term programming, together with interested National Societies, to address the root causes of food insecurity. We will build on our previous successes and work in support of governments’ plans and frameworks to restore the resilience of the most impoverished communities, including displaced populations.
Everything we do will be underpinned by solid data and meaningful community engagement to ensure that our response is evidence-based and tailor-made.
Hunger is one of the most undignified sufferings of humanity. To alleviate human suffering, we must rise to this challenge through collective mobilization and action—both in the immediate and long-term.
We simply cannot afford to do too little, too late.
The IFRC network reached 4.8 million people with food assistance and non-food items, combining all humanitarian response operations (Emergency Appeals, DREFs and our COVID-19 response)
More than 20 African National Societies have been implementing food security-related projects as part of their regular programming
33 African National Societies have increased their capacity to deliver cash and voucher assistance
Click here to learn more about the IFRC’s work in food security and livelihoods.
You may also be interested in reading:
'To beat Africa’s hunger crises, start with long-term planning' -opinion piece in Devex by IFRC Regional Director for Africa, Mohammed Omer Mukhier-Abuzein
'Because of hunger, I am here' - photo story from the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine about Angolan refugees fleeing to Namibia due to the drought and resulting lack of food and water
And scroll down to learn more about our active Emergency Appeals for food insecurity in Africa and beyond.
| Press release
Horn of Africa: IFRC Secretary General visits Kenya as worst drought in 40 years looms for millions
Nairobi/Geneva, 6 May 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Secretary General Jagan Chapagain ends a three-day visit to Kenya, and he is calling for a massive scale-up of humanitarian and long-term assistance to communities affected by the growing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Speaking at the end of a visit to Marsabit, one of Kenya’s areas that has been hardest hit by the effects of drought, Mr Chapagain said:
“I have seen firsthand the level of suffering caused by drought in Marsabit. There are highly unacceptable levels of malnutrition, a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 53.6 per cent in this particular ward - one of the highest in Africa. The situation is rapidly deteriorating. We need immediate humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable. We also need long term solutions that address the impact of climate change including investment in resilient livelihoods.”
Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are facing a large-scale, climate-induced, and protracted humanitarian crisis with over 14 million people food insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance including at least 5.5 million children facing acute malnutrition. 6.1 million people in Ethiopia and 4.1 million people in Somalia are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure, with eastern and northern Kenya’s most arid and semi-arid lands experiencing critical drought conditions. This silent disaster has been overshadowed—and to a significant extent amplified—by the Ukraine crisis.
“It isn’t just food and water that people need here. In the background there are unseen issues such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the profound impacts on mental health. An example given was of women walking over 40 km to reach potable water – what happens on the journey is unthinkable,” added Mr Chapagain.
Dr Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, who was also in Marsabit, said:
“The fact that people in Marsabit have lost over 70 per cent of their livestock, which is their main source of livelihood, means that it will be a long and slow path to recovery. Our teams are playing a central role in reducing the risks that families are facing. They have provided cash assistance, food assistance and improved water treatment practices, but the need to rehabilitate water systems remains urgent. We call all our partners and stakeholders to support our efforts.”
In response to the hunger and drought situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the IFRC, the Kenya Red Cross, Ethiopia Red Cross and Somali Red Crescent are jointly appealing for 39 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 1,560,000 people by scaling up their emergency and humanitarian assistance and recovery activities and tackling the root causes of food insecurity.
This strategy is aligned with the IFRC’s Pan African Zero Hunger Initiative that undertakes a holistic approach to food security, integrating specific interventions for rapid nutrition, food security and livelihood support for acute food-insecure households and communities with a long-term strategy working towards zero hunger and sustainable recovery.
“Food is a basic need of the population. We call upon every government in Africa to ensure they have the right policy framework to deal with drought,” said Mr Chapagain.
To request an interview with representatives from the IFRC or Kenya Red Cross, or for more information, please contact:
IFRC - Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, [email protected]
Kenya Red Cross - Peter Abwao, +254 711 590911, [email protected]
IFRC – Benoit Carpentier, +41 79 213 2413, [email protected]
| Press release
Ethiopia: IFRC steps up emergency response amid “overwhelming humanitarian needs”
09 December 2021, Addis, Nairobi, Geneva—The ongoing conflict in Ethiopia has affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The year-long fighting—combined with other existing hazards—has resulted in a worrying humanitarian situation, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) today.
This crisis has exacerbated an already dire situation in Ethiopia. Climate shocks, devastating desert locusts, the continued socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and below-average rainfall have also led to a deterioration in food insecurity and other humanitarian needs.
Ato Getachew Taa, Ethiopian Red Cross Society’s Secretary General, said: “Unless immediate action is taken, millions of lives are at risk due to displacement, food insecurity, trauma and loss of livelihoods. About 23 million people in Ethiopia are now in need of humanitarian assistance across the country, due to the combined consequences of conflict, drought, epidemics, food insecurity, pest outbreaks, and population movement. Our teams are currently handling overwhelming humanitarian needs.”
Urgent needs include emergency shelter and essential household items, food, cash, health services, psychological support, water, sanitation, and hygiene materials—as well as protection services.
The IFRC is deeply concerned by the mounting needs and is stepping up its humanitarian response and preparedness efforts. Through IFRC’s extended response operation, 660,000 people affected by the crisis will receive humanitarian support—including shelter, food, cash, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene items. IFRC’s operational strategy provides targeted assistance and contributes to meeting the immediate needs of the affected population.
Mohammed Mukhier, IFRC Regional Director for Africa, said: “Our teams and partners have been doing their best to reach desperate communities, but the resources are unable to keep pace with the scale of need. To match the growing humanitarian demands and reach people desperate for assistance, the IFRC is seeking 27 million Swiss francs.” Red Cross teams in Ethiopia have been providing humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the crisis. Thousands of displaced families have received shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as household, food and cash assistance. In Sudan and Djibouti, those who fled from Ethiopia are also receiving similar services from Red Cross and Red Crescent teams.
“The IFRC network is working in a neutral, impartial way to support vulnerable communities. In accordance with our Fundamental Principles, we continue to ensure that we deliver our support based on people’s needs alone and prioritize the most vulnerable at all times,” added Mukhier.
For more information, please contact:
In Ethiopia: Dr Solomon Ali, +251 911 252428, [email protected]
In Sudan: Nawal Hassan Yousif, +249 91 265 6872, [email protected] and Osama A. Osman, +249 96 026 0000, [email protected]
In Djibouti: Amina Hussein, [email protected]
In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 735 437 906, [email protected]
In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]
Ethiopia’s crisis and its humanitarian consequences
The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and prevailing outlook remain of grave concern. An estimated 23 million people in Ethiopia are in need of humanitarian assistance across the country due to the combined consequences of conflict, drought, epidemics, food insecurity, pest outbreaks, and population movement. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, Sudanese Red Crescent Society and Djibouti Red Crescent Society to scale up their live-saving humanitarian response and preparedness for future needs.
Ethiopian Red Cross Society
| Press release
After visiting Tigray, IFRC President calls for increased humanitarian response
Addis Ababa/Nairobi/Geneva, 10 February 2021 – The President of the world’s largest humanitarian network has ended a visit to Ethiopia’s Mekele city in Tigray region with a plea for increased humanitarian response to better meet the needs of people affected by recent fighting.
Speaking at the end of his five day visit to Ethiopia, Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:
“I am very concerned about the conditions that I saw during my visit, including people internally displaced by the fighting, especially children, their mothers and the elderly. It was clear to me that people in Tigray need much more support than they are currently receiving.
“While there have been positive announcements by a small number of aid organizations in recent days in this regard, it is my hope that more aid can begin to arrive consistently. We need to scale up humanitarian operations. We need to do much more to bring help to those who desperately need it.”
In particular, President Rocca raised concerns about the impact of the fighting on medical services, noting that hospitals he visited were lacking even basic medical supplies. He also shared serious concerns relayed by local health officials about rising levels of serious malnutrition.
An assessment by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, found that more than 2.6 million people in Tigray and the adjacent regions of Amhara, Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz and SNNPR need humanitarian assistance. According to the Ethiopian Red Cross, primary needs among affected people in Tigray include food and basic relief items, water and sanitation, medical supplies and technical assistance for mobile clinics.
Mr Rocca also spoke of the compounding impact that the Tigray crisis has had on other vulnerabilities in Ethiopia, as well as in neighbouring countries. By the end of January 2021, an estimated 200,000 people had been internally displaced in Ethiopia alongside 60,000 people who have fled into Sudan. In addition, there are at least 230 Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti.
Mr Rocca further mentioned the heavy humanitarian caseload that was already confronting Ethiopia and surrounding countries, and the subsequent need for coordinated and comprehensive action by aid organizations:
“The Horn of Africa is facing chronic multiple crises, including widespread and severe food insecurity, and massive locust swarms that have contributed to further crop losses.
“The region is also grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic which, among other impacts, has led to the closure of schools. More than 6.4 million children are now without school meals and this has worsened malnutrition considerably.”
In response to the situation in Ethiopia and surrounding countries, the IFRC, the Ethiopian Red Cross, the Sudanese Red Crescent and the Red Crescent Society of Djibouti are jointly appealing for 27 million Swiss francs. This funding will allow Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff to assist 660,000 people, including the Ethiopians who are internally displaced and those who have fled into Sudan and Djibouti.
The operation will focus on supporting families to maintain their livelihoods and meet basic needs, the provision of clean water and improved sanitation facilities, the delivery of health and psychosocial support services, and efforts to strengthen local Red Cross and Red Crescent capacities to prepare for and respond to future emergencies.
| Press release
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement scales up its humanitarian response to meet urgent needs in Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti
Geneva/Nairobi, 28 January 2021 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing to donors for 20 million Swiss francs to urgently expand its response to the acute humanitarian needs created by the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia, while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 27 million Swiss francs to support the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to address other drivers of vulnerability in the region.
Many people have been displaced within Tigray, and almost 60,000 sought refuge in Sudan. Refugees and people displaced within the region suffer from a lack of food and essential services, like water and healthcare. Some healthcare facilities in Tigray were abandoned and looted, while others are running short of supplies and are struggling to cope with the growing demand. Thousands have lost contact with their loved ones.
"The needs in Tigray are overwhelming. Government responses need to accelerate, and humanitarian organizations urgently need access so people can receive lifesaving assistance before it's too late," said Patrick Youssef, the ICRC’s regional director for Africa. "Humanitarian access outside major towns remains challenging and there is little visibility on the humanitarian situation in rural areas."
"The recent developments in Tigray have compounded other existing vulnerabilities in Ethiopia and in neighbouring Sudan and Djibouti. Even before the fighting, the region was dealing with acute food insecurity, an invasion of desert locusts, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mohammed Mukhier, regional director for Africa at IFRC.
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), present across the country, including Tigray, has been providing humanitarian assistance since the first day of the fighting, working alongside the ICRC. The ERCS counts on a large network of volunteers who remained active despite being affected by the crisis themselves.
The ICRC has been working in Tigray for decades and maintained its operations throughout the fighting that erupted almost three months ago. Supporting hospitals in Mekelle, Axum, Adwa and Shire has been a priority. Following some of its initial assistance missions, which included sending the first humanitarian convoy into Mekelle and helping some 11,300 families reestablish contact, the ICRC is appealing to donors for funds needed to reinforce its operational capacity. It is expanding its presence in Mekelle and re-opening an office in Shire.
Besides scaling up its presence in Tigray, the ICRC will continue addressing the alarming humanitarian situation in Benishangul-Gumuz, Western Oromia and Guji, where armed violence episodes have been recurrent.
The Sudanese Red Crescent has been distributing food, household items and providing primary health services to refugees and communities hosting them. The IFRC released emergency funds to enable the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to assist 40,000 people. The Djibouti Red Crescent Society maintains a presence in Hol Hol refugee camp and Obock, where it provides water and sanitation services and works to promote hygiene and raise COVID-19 awareness.
The IFRC is appealing for funds to enable the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the Djibouti Red Crescent Society to deliver humanitarian assistance and recovery support to 660,000 people.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest humanitarian network. It consists of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The town of Mekelle has been struggling with a shortage of water in recent months and the ICRC has been supplying water to 3,700 people a day through water trucking and storage tank installations.
It provided medical assistance to 4,500 people wounded by weapons and 10,900 primary healthcare patients. 648 weapon-wounded people received physical rehabilitation services.
The organization has distributed 35 metric tons of food received from the Ministry of Health and Catholic Relief Services to four hospitals in Tigray.
Almost 9,500 displaced people in Mekelle received essential household items.
11,300 families reestablished contact through the Ethiopian Red Cross, the Sudanese Red Crescent and the ICRC services in Sudan and Ethiopia.
In November, the IFRC released funds to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to target 7,500 affected people in Amhara to improve their access to health, water and sanitation, shelter and livelihood support for four months.
The IFRC also released emergency funds to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to provide emergency services to 40,000 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. The Sudanese Red Crescent Society works in Hamdayit and Al Lukdi centres and Um-Rakoba settlement to provide shelter, household items, health services, improved water and sanitation, and to carry out gender protection and inclusion activities.
In all the three countries, the IFRC continued supporting National Societies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
| Press release
Sudan: Red Crescent ramps up operation as influx of Ethiopian refugees grows
Khartoum/Nairobi/Geneva, 23 November 2020 – The Sudanese Red Crescent Society has scaled up its operation at the border with Ethiopia to support the growing number of Ethiopian refugees coming into the country. Since fighting began in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on 5 November, more than 30,000 people have crossed the border into Sudan and the number is increasing by the day.
At the transit centres located in Lukdi in Gedaref and Hamdaiet in Kassala state, there is an urgent and immediate need for food and water, shelter, first aid and medical care as well as psychosocial support. The Red Crescent has distributed emergency relief items to 500 families and is mobilising more support from partners and the Sudanese government.
Dr Afaf Yahya, Sudanese Red Crescent Secretary General, said: “We have completed construction of four communal shelters, seven communal kitchens and four emergency latrine blocks. We have also rehabilitated the road from Doka to Um Rakoba to speed up and ease the transportation of the refugees to settlement camps.”
In Kassala state, the Red Crescent is operating in two clinics where health and nutrition screenings and medical consultations are being conducted. Red Crescent teams are providing psychosocial support and transferring those with complicated medical conditions and in need of surgery to hospitals.
“We are concerned by the rate at which humanitarian needs are growing. Many of the refugees are exhausted and hungry from the long distances they have walked to reach here. They are worried about the families they left behind and from the look on children’s faces, they are evidently deeply affected to by what is happening,” said Dr Yahya.
Mohammed Omer Mukhier, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa, said:
“The needs at the border transit points and settlement camps remain high. There is an urgent need for more emergency shelter for refugees, who are still arriving in big numbers. Distribution centres need to be constructed and existing health centres also need to be rehabilitated.”
The Sudanese Red Crescent Society—which has an expansive network of 400,000 volunteers across the country—has also mobilised volunteers to assist with temperature checks and registration at border transit points. The Red Crescent has responded to previous population movement crises including, the South Sudanese refugee’ emergency.
This influx of refugees comes at a time when Sudan is already in the throes of a major and complex humanitarian emergency. Unprecedented flooding since July has left over 875,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. Food crops already depleted due to a desert locust invasion, and livestock have been wiped out. Soaring inflation has led to prices skyrocketing, and stagnant and contaminated water continue to pose a serious health risk alongside the threat of COVID-19. Kassala State—an area heavily affected by the flooding—is now hosting incoming refugees, adding further strain to resources and local communities.
| Press release
East Africa: Red Cross raises the alarm over a “triple menace” of floods, COVID-19 and locusts
Nairobi/Geneva, 20 May 2020—A series of mutually exacerbating disasters is unfolding in East Africa, on a scale rarely seen in decades, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Ongoing heavy rain—which has killed nearly 300 and displaced about 500,000 people—has slowed down operations aimed at controlling the worst locust crisis in decades and increased the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Simon Missiri, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said:
“The ongoing flooding crisis is exacerbating other threats caused by COVID-19 and the invasion of locusts. Travel and movement restrictions meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 are hampering efforts to combat swarms of locusts that are ravaging crops. Flooding is also a ‘threat amplifier’ with regards to the spread of COVID-19 as it makes it hard to implement preventive measures.”
Flooding has left thousands of people homeless, many of them now seeking shelter in temporary accommodation centres where it is not easy or not possible at all to observe physical distancing. As a result, thousands are now at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or waterborne diseases and need emergency food assistance.
“We are facing an unusually complex humanitarian situation. We are worried that the number of people who are hungry and sick will increase in the coming weeks as flooding and COVID-19 continue to severely affect the coping capacity of many families in the region,” added Dr Missiri. “Harsh weather conditions are having a multiplier effect on an already difficult situation and this could potentially lead to worrying levels of food insecurity in the region.”
Red Cross teams in the affected countries are rushing to respond to multi-faceted and overlapping crises. To respond to flooding, COVID-19 and locusts, the IFRC has provided over 7 million Swiss francs to Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in East and Horn of Africa.
Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are helping communities mitigate the negative impacts of the triple disaster through community awareness and direct food and non-food support. In Kenya, the Red Cross is conducting assessments in 16 counties, using drones and satellite images. Red Cross teams are also airlifting household items to families that have been marooned by floods.
“Flooding is a recurrent phenomenon in the region. To break this cycle, we call upon Governments and partners to invest more in preparedness and flood control methods,” said Dr MISSIRI.