Top of the Morning: Urgent Appeal for South Sudan Food Aid; EU Strikes at Pirate Den

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.  

Urgent Appeal for South Sudan Food Aid

A perfect storm of conflict, returning refugees from the north, poor harvests and rising food prices are posing an immediate risk to millions of people in South Sudan. “The United Nations is calling for more than $500 million in emergency aid for the people of South Sudan. Late last year the UN appealed for nearly $800 million to fund humanitarian operations in South Sudan but it received about a third of that amount.  The UN said the bulk of the $505 million it needs would go toward providing food to tens of thousands of South Sudanese, many of whom are returning home from Sudan. The UN Humanitarian Aid Program Coordinator in South Sudan, Lisa Grande, said assessments by the government of South Sudan and UN agencies both indicate 4.7 million people, or about half the population of the entire country, are food insecure this year.Grande said the amount of food needed for the region has doubled compared to last year.” (VOA

20 Syrians Killed as UN Monitoring Mission Comes Under Attack

A roadside bomb detonated near a UN convoy in Syria on Tuesday, destroying four vehicles but injuring no monitors. However, in the ensuing melee between rebels and government forces, about 20 people were killed. “Eyewitnesses reached via Skype in Khan Sheikhoun, the town where the confrontation took place in the embattled northwestern province of Idlib, said that a large crowd had turned out for the funeral of a man killed by government forces two days earlier near Hama. The mourners were surprised when a United Nations convoy rolled into town and headed toward the area where government forces are concentrated in the town, which residents refer to as the “Mantiqa,” the Arabic word for area. The observers were apparently going to survey the fortified checkpoints — the truce negotiated by Mr. Annan requires that armed forces and heavy weapons should be withdrawn from population centers. Emboldened by the presence of the monitors, some residents started demonstrating nearer to the checkpoints and the government area than they normally would. When they were at close range, the soldiers opened fire, said the eyewitnesses, and somewhere in the fracas the distinctive white United Nations vehicles were heavily damaged. An amateur video posted online shows the lead vehicle lurching and then listing, its front hood blown open, after a loud bang sends up a cloud of dust.” (NYT

EU Force Launches Rare Land-Based Attack On Somali Pirates

This is a serious escalation of the international community’s fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa. Here’s analysis from the BBC’s Frank Gardiner. “The overnight raid on Somali pirate bases is small but significant. This is the first time since the EU set up its naval patrol force off Somalia in Dec 2008 that it has taken the fight to the pirates’ home base. The idea, says the EU, is to disrupt the pirates’ business model and upset their logistics. Naval officers say there were no casualties on either side but if raids like this are repeated – as they probably will be – the pirates are likely to adapt their operations making it harder for their equipment to be destroyed without also hitting local Somalis. (BBC