News in Brief 14 August (AM)

7.7 million in DRC face "acute hunger" UN agencies warn

Around 7.7 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) face acute hunger, a 30 per cent increase over the last year, two UN agencies warned on Monday.

A new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) found that the number of people requiring urgent humanitarian food assistance rose by 1.8 million, from 5.9 million.

Hunger is on the rise due to escalating and prolonged conflict and displacement in central and eastern DRC, mainly in the KasaA� and Tanganyika regions, where there has been widespread violence.

In conflict-ridden areas, farmers have seen their villages and fields pillaged and they have not been able to plant for the last two seasons, said Alexis Bonte, FAO acting representative in the DRC.

The humanitarian situation has also been exacerbated by the spread of fall armyworm infestations and cholera and measles outbreaks, he underscored.

According to WFP, between 50 to 80 per cent of people in the areas affected by hunger struggle to find food. In several areas, people only eat once a day.

The situation is set to get worse if urgent support does not come in time, urged Mr Bonte.

UN food agency launches "fighting famine campaign"

The UN food agency, WFP, is taking part in a global campaign to warn about a severe food crisis that is putting 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Northeast of Nigeria at risk of dying of hunger.

Using the hashtag #fightingfamine, the agency is trying to shine the spotlight on this "unprecedented food crisis".

In Spain, WFP's partners have donated resources and advertising space so that the initiative is channelled through the press, online media, digital screens and even street furniture.

To date, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria have averted a famine.

Meanwhile, the famine declared in two counties of South Sudan in February has been overcome.

However, the situation remains critical with three out of four countries entering the lean season � except for Yemen.

It's the point in the year when food stocks are the lowest and the rains make access by land difficult.

In June, WFP assisted 11.8 million people in the four countries facing famine.

WHO urges "caution" as Somalia celebrates 3 years of being polio-free

The World Health Organization (WHO) has applauded Somalia's efforts to ward off polio but also urged continued caution.

An event, attended by the President of Somalia and parliamentarians, was held on Monday in Mogadishu to mark three years since the last case of wild poliovirus was detected.

Somalia stopped the endemic spread of polio in 2002 but has been twice affected by importations of the virus.

The celebration comes amidst the worst outbreak of measles the country has seen in years.

The innovative approaches used by the polio programme, like the mapping and tracking of movement of nomadic pastoral communities to reach children on the move, have been effective.

These polio systems and networks are also being used to intervene in measles, cholera and acute watery diarrhoea outbreaks.

Source: United Nations Radio