Twenty million people face starvation without an immediate injection of funds in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria warns Stephen OBrien
The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war with more than 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine, a senior United Nations official has warned.
Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death and many more will suffer and die from disease, Stephen O’Brien, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the security council in New York on Friday that he urged an immediate injection of funds for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid to avert a catastrophe.
To be precise, O’Brien said, we need $4.4bn by July. Unless there was a major infusion of money, he said, children would be stunted by severe malnutrition and would not be able to go to school, gains in economic development would be reversed and livelihoods, futures, and hope lost.
UN and food organizations define famine as when more than 30% of children under age 5 suffer from acute malnutrition and mortality rates are two or more deaths per 10,000 people every day, among other criteria.
Already at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations [in 1945], OBrien said. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.
O’Brien said the largest humanitarian crisis was in Yemen where two-thirds of the population 18.8 million people need aid and more than seven million people are hungry and did not know where their next meal would come from. That is three million people more than in January, he said.
Yemen is engulfed in conflict as Saudi Arabia and Iran wage a proxy war in the Arab world’s poorest nation. O’Brien said more than 48,000 people fled fighting just in the past two months. During his recent visit to Yemen, OBrien said he met senior leaders of the Saudi-backed government and the Tehran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa, and all promised access for aid.
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