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Urgent funding needed to avert Famine in four countries threatening over 20 million people
by WFP, UN News, Unicef, OCHA, agencies
10:51am 17th Mar, 2017
17 May 2017
As four countries face famine, world ''must step up now'' says top UN food security forum.
With famine looming in four countries, the United Nations-backed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) stressed today the need to rally support for both immediate relief to people at risk and for longer-term initiatives.
“Governments, civic groups and businesses need to rally support for both immediate relief to people in countries at risk of famine and longer-term initiatives that will allow them to recover and restore their livelihoods,” Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of the CFS, said today in Rome.
Famine has been declared in some counties of South Sudan, and the number of people close to sliding from emergency to disaster is perilously high in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and other UN agencies.
The risk of famine in all four countries – where some 30 million people are uncertain as to where their next meal will come from or rely on humanitarian assistance – is mostly induced by conflict, which has disrupted food production, blocked aid and commodities from accessing vulnerable communities and driven food prices beyond what people can afford.
“I urge you to take action now to relieve the impending suffering and to prevent further damage to livelihoods,” Ms. Gornass stated in a letter to CFS Members and stakeholders, as well as the international community at large, to step-up their response to the crises in the four countries.
Reiterating calls made by Secretary-General, António Guterres, the Ambassador wrote: “The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the primary mechanism for the coordination of humanitarian assistance, emergency and relief responses, can meet immediate needs if adequately funded.”
“Everyone should do what they can to support the IASC and to mobilize the necessary resources to enable emergency and relief activities to continue,” she added.
While emergency relief is an immediate priority, plans for medium and longer-term assistance to support recovery and prevent future famines must be supported, the CFS Chair emphasized.
“The affected populations of these four countries need our help now. We, as the international community, need to act urgently and come together with effective actions,” she said.
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.
25 Apr 2017
#FacingFamine: Update on Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Northeast Nigeria - Report from the World Food Programme
Twenty million people in 4 countries - Northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen - are at an elevated risk of famine, and a further 10 million are in crisis. Famine has already been declared in two counties in South Sudan, affecting 100,000 and with another 1 million on the brink of it.
Some of the most vulnerable people in the hardest-hit areas are already dying from starvation and disease in the four countries.
It is vital to act before famine is declared. In Somalia, half of the 260,000 people who perished between 2010 and 2012 had died before famine was declared in July 2011.
Prevention works. Malnutrition rates have declined where we or partners had sustained access and delivered food and nutritional supplies for children under age five.
Conflict is the principal driver of the crisis, sparking food insecurity, disrupting markets, limiting trade, destroying assets, leaving households without income or means to access food and displacing whole communities. Eight million people have been displaced as a result of these conflicts.
An associated problem is humanitarian access. A key trend is that the most vulnerable, displaced people are frequently the hardest to reach. For example, in March, Rapid Response teams from WFP-UNICEF could not reach an estimated 100,000 people in NE Nigeria, due to insecurity.
Humanitarian agencies need the international community to exert political pressure to secure full and sustained access to all those in need.
Funding Needs
In recent history, the world has not faced this number of multiple food security crises, with four countries facing famine all at once.
Famines can be averted. When they occur, they are an acknowledgement of collective failure by everyone: the United Nations, partners, donors and governments. It is much less costly to avert famine, than to respond to it.
Additionally, long-term development gains are lost.
Conflict and denial of access prevents aid from reaching many people in need, but a lack of funds also has a major impact on lives, forcing WFP and partners to ‘prioritize’, essentially deciding who among the most vulnerable receives limited aid, and who does not.
An immediate injection of funds is required to avert a catastrophe; otherwise, many thousands of people will die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost and communities destroyed.
* WFP Executive Summary:
March 22, 2017 (Reuters/ICRC)
The world has got three to four months to save millions of people in Yemen and Somalia from starvation, as war and drought wreck crops and block deliveries of food and medical care, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.
The aid agency still needs $300 million to bring emergency assistance to a total of 5 million people in Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria as well as areas of South Sudan, where famine has already been declared.
"We have probably a window of three to four months to avoid a worst case scenario," Dominik Stillhart, the ICRC''s director of operations worldwide, told a Geneva news briefing.
"We have kind of a perfect storm now where protracted conflict is overlapped or exacerbated by natural hazard, drought in particular, in the Horn of Africa which is leading to the situation we are facing now," he said.
More than 20 million people are facing famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, say aid agencies.
Cholera, which can be deadly for children, is on the rise in Somalia, where drought is killing livestock and driving people to flee in search of water, said Bruce Orina, ICRC deputy regional director for Africa.
At least 300,000 malnourished children are trapped by fighting in northeast Nigeria.
"If we do not avert these water-borne related diseases then we are exposing these huge numbers of children to a likely scenario of death," Orina said.
The ICRC has received $100 million towards the $400 million needed for its operations in the four countries this year.
The United Nations has appealed for about $5.6 billion, bringing total funding needs to $6 billion, Stillhart said.
"There are significant needs and, of course, there are serious concerns in terms of having funding available sufficiently fast in order to avert what I said is large-scale starvation," he said.
The United States, whose average contribution finances about one-quarter of ICRC field operations, has yet to donate, he said, noting a top ICRC official was to speak about the famine to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
"In 2011 the response was too slow and too late, leading to the starvation of 260,000 people in Somalia alone," he warned.
Robert Mardini, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, said that an average of 20 people die each day from curable disease or war wounds in Yemen where less than half of health facilities still function.
"The children are going hungry... This conflict is pushing Yemen closer to famine day after day," he said.
An ICRC team on Tuesday reached Taiz, a city of 400,000 "on the verge of collapse", Mardini said. "Food is extremely scarce in the city and it''s not affordable for the vast majority of people."
Mar 21, 2017 (Reuters)
At least 26 people died from hunger in the semi-autonomous Jubbaland region of southern Somalia in just a day an a half, federal government radio said. Somalia, like other countries in the region, is facing a devastating drought that has killed livestock, cut harvests and left 6.2 million people, about half its population, in need of food aid.
The acute hunger gripping Jubbaland caused an exodus of hundreds of families into the capital Mogadishu seeking help.
Mohamed Hussein, Jubbaland assistant minister of interior, said severe drought had killed the people over a span of 36 hours to Monday, all in various towns in middle Jubba and Gedo areas. "The people in those areas need emergency assistance," Hussein said.
Among a group of nine families arriving in the capital from Jubbaland on Tuesday was Ibrahim Abdow, 62, who said he rode on a donkey and a bus to get there. "Our cows and farms have perished. The rivers have dried and there are no wells there," he told Reuters, while camping under a tree on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Residents of the city supplied the families with bread and bowls of water but they said relief food from aid agencies was needed urgently.
16 March 2017
Act now to address and prevent famine in four countries, by Stephen O''Brien - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
The life of seven-month-old Sundus hangs by a thread in central Yemen. She has known little but hunger and sickness for most of her short life. She is caught in the vicious cycle of malnutrition and disease alongside millions of other innocent women, girls, boys and men because of a war that is not her own.
The world is already facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War, with almost 130 million people in 33 countries in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection. But right now, Sundus is one of 20 million people in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen who are experiencing starvation, famine, or the risk of famine.
In north-eastern Nigeria, over 5 million people are severely food insecure and 450,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
In South Sudan, 100,000 people are already facing famine, with another 1 million on the brink.
In Somalia, largely due to consecutive and severe droughts, there are worrying similarities to the famine of 2011, when more than a quarter million people died – half of them before the famine was officially declared. Food prices are rising, animals are dying, and close to 3 million people cannot meet their daily food needs.
Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with a third of the country – almost 19 million people – requiring humanitarian and protection assistance. More than 7 million people need urgent food assistance.
With health facilities destroyed and damaged, diseases are sweeping through the country. Some 462,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and a child dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes.
The warning call and appeal for action by the Secretary-General of 22 February 2017 cannot be understated. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.
Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children will be stunted and forced out of school. People’s livelihoods, and their hope for the future will be lost. Development gains will be reversed. Many more will be displaced and move in search of survival, creating ever more instability across entire regions.
Across all four countries, the UN and partners are engaged in large-scale operations, with strategic, coordinated plans, and strong leadership and teams. In 2016, more than 2.3 million people in north-eastern Nigeria received food and agriculture assistance, while 1.1 million received water, sanitation and hygiene support. Some 5 million people in South Sudan received aid last year through a network of more than 130 partners across the country. We reached more than 1 million people in Somalia with food and livelihoods support. In Yemen, 120 partners are already delivering life-saving assistance and protection to nearly 6 million people every month in all 22 governorates.
Yet, sadly, this is not nearly enough and much more needs to be done. Given the funding, and the access, we are ready to extend the operations further.
Humanitarian partners urgently need $4.4 billion to respond to and avert famine and save many thousands of lives. The money will translate into malnutrition treatment programmes for children and adults, emergency food aid deliveries, livestock support, health interventions, clean water, sanitation and hygiene support, and minimal financial support for millions of the most vulnerable people. Time is running out. So far, we have received only $429 million of this amount.
Only combined with humanitarian access will the funding be enough to avert the worst. In all four countries, aid workers face enormous challenges in delivering assistance due to ongoing violence, insecurity and bureaucratic impediments. Parties to conflicts are also arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicizing aid. These parties claim to represent people, yet their conduct against international humanitarian and human rights law perpetuates and increases the suffering.
If they don’t change their behaviour now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, death and suffering that will follow. This also applies to States and Governments who have influence over warring parties. I appeal to the parties to conflict to allow for safe, full and unimpeded humanitarian access so we can reach those in desperate need.
Governments must commit to political solutions to bring an end to the complex and bloody conflicts that have destroyed millions of people’s lives across each of these countries.
It is possible to address and avert these famines, and to prevent human catastrophe on a massive scale but we must act quickly and not wait until it is too late. Allowing famine to unfold is a choice; we must make the choice to stop it. We have no time to lose.
* Stephen O''Brien is the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator:
22 Feb 2017
Report from UN Secretary-General, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
More than 20 million people in North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are facing famine or a credible risk of famine over the coming six months. With access to people in need and sufficient funding, the United Nations and its partners can avert famine and provide the necessary relief and support where famine already exists.
To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, the United Nations and its partners will continue to scale up humanitarian operations. Lifesaving assistance in the areas of food and livelihoods, nutrition, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene will be prioritised as these represent the key sectors of famine response and prevention.
"One of the biggest obstacles we face now is funding. Humanitarian operations in these four countries require at least $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe", said UN Secretary-General António Guterres today addressing a packed press briefing at UN headquarters.
"Funding shortages have already forced the World Food Programme to cut rations in Yemen by more than half since last year. Without new resources, critical shortages will worsen within months."
The United Nations is also stepping up cooperation between humanitarian and development partners. Strengthening such links, we are seeking not only to save lives but to build the resilience necessary for people to withstand future shocks.
Effective and efficient humanitarian delivery relies on access to reach people in need. The UN and its partners call for full, safe and unimpeded access to all those in need, wherever they are.
"The lives of millions of people depend on our collective ability to act", Mr Guterres stressed. "We have heard the alerts. Now there is no time to lose."
North-East Nigeria:
5.1 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance. 450,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition.
In 2016, humanitarian actors reached more than 2.3 million people with food and agriculture assistance and 1.1 million with water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.
South Sudan:
100,000 people already facing famine. 1 million people are on the brink of famine. 5 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance. 270,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition.
In 2016, humanitarian partners reached more than 5 million people with aid, including nearly 3.6 million with food assistance or emergency livelihoods support and more than 2 million people with access to clean water
2.9 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance. 185,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition.
In 2016, humanitarian partners reached over one million people with food and livelihoods support, treated nearly 140,000 children for severe acute malnutrition, and provided water and sanitation to over one million people
7.3 million people urgently need food assistance. 462,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition.
Humanitarian partners reached 5.3 million people with assistance in 2016, including an average of 3.8 million people with food assistance every month and 5.3 million people with direct health services
“Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan. Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are already facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe,” said the Secretary-General, stressing: “This is preventable if the international community takes decisive action.”
“The lives of millions of people depend on our collective ability to act. In our world of plenty, there is no excuse for inaction or indifference.”
These four crises are very different, but are all preventable. “They all stem from conflict, which we must do much more to prevent and resolve,” he said, urging all members of the international community to step up and do whatever is in their power, whether that is mobilizing support, exerting political pressure on parties to conflict, or funding humanitarian operations.
“Saving lives is the first priority,” Mr. Guterres said.
Feb 22, 2017
Looming Famines pose unprecedented challenge warns the World Food Programme.
The spectre of simultaneous famines in four countries poses an unprecedented challenge to the humanitarian community as well as a personal tragedy for hundreds of thousands of people, WFP has warned.
Famine was declared in Leer and Mayendit counties in South Sudan on Monday 20 February, with three other countries also at severe risk: Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.
WFP needs at least US$ 1.2 billion for its operations in the four countries through July, out of a total US$ 4.4 billion needed by the UN by the end of March to avert a catastrophe.
Famine remains relatively rare, and multiple, simultaneous famines have not been seen in modern times. People are already dying in all four countries because of malnutrition. The next stage it that the number of deaths will increase exponentially unless life-saving investment is made now.
It costs much less to scale up humanitarian assistance in order to halt a looming famine than it does to deal with a full famine and its dire consequences, which can lead to massive suffering for many years.
In South Sudan, a most significant humanitarian effort has helped WFP to stave off catastrophe over the past three years, where food and nutrition support helped battle high levels of hunger. WFP believes that, with access, this can be repeated to beat back an unfolding catastrophe.
This alarming situation requires all donors to step up their support so we can scale up operations to head off famines in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen and stop the situation worsening in South Sudan.
Like South Sudan, conflict is a leading driver of the crises in Somalia, northeast Nigeria and Yemen. Another factor common to all four countries is a lack of humanitarian access. Even if WFP receives enough funding to stop famine in South Sudan spreading and other countries sliding into famine, it needs the international community to exert political pressure to secure full and sustained access to all of those in need.
“In spite of immense security and logistics obstacles in South Sudan, including a deteriorating security environment and staff evacuations, WFP provided a record four million people with food and nutrition assistance in 2016,” said Cousin. “Yet in Unity State, lack of humanitarian access means hunger and catastrophe for this war’s most vulnerable victims.”
The conditions for famine are measured by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), a UN specialist unit to objectively classify food security. It uses three criteria before declaring a famine.
At least 20 percent of households in the area are classified in the most extreme category of food insecurity, Phase 5 famine, meaning they have an extreme lack of food where starvation, death and destruction are evident. More than 30 percent of children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition.
Funding needs in figures (as of 23 February 2017):
South Sudan: US$ 205 million to provide food and nutrition assistance to the end of July. Somalia: US$ 374 million for operations to July. Yemen: Planned operations require US$ 69.5 million per month. Emergency operation has requires US$ 417 million from February to July. Nigeria: Operations to July require US$ 219 million.
21 February 2017
1.4 million children at risk of death as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen reports UNICEF.
1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year, as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.
“Time is running out for more than a million children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We can still save many lives. The severe malnutrition and looming famine are largely man-made. Our common humanity demands faster action. We must not repeat the tragedy of the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa.”
In northeast Nigeria, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobi. Fews Net, the famine early warning system that monitors food insecurity, said late last year that famine likely occurred in some previously inaccessible areas of Borno states, and that it is likely ongoing, and will continue, in other areas which remain beyond humanitarian reach.
In Somalia, drought conditions are threatening an already fragile population battered by decades of conflict. Almost half the population, or 6.2 million people, are facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance. Some 185,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, however this figure is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.
In South Sudan, a country reeling from conflict, poverty and insecurity, over 270,000 children are severely malnourished. Famine has just recently been declared in parts of Unity State in the northern central part of the country, where 20,000 children live. The total number of food insecure people across the country is expected to rise from 4.9 million to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.
And in Yemen, where a conflict has been raging for the past two years, 462,000 children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014.
This year, UNICEF is working with partners to provide therapeutic treatment to 220,000 severely malnourished children in Nigeria, over 200,000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan, more than 200,000 severely malnourished children in Somalia, and 320,000 children in Yemen.
Feb 22, 2017
Looming famine threatens children’s lives in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia. (Action Against Hunger)
More than one million children are at imminent risk of dying from life-threatening malnutrition.
‘Conflict, acute food shortages, disease and widespread displacement have led to unprecedented levels of child hunger in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Famine has recently been declared in parts of Unity state in the northern central part of South Sudan - the first time famine to be declared anywhere in the world since the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa.
But South Sudan is not the only country facing catastrophe. Children in Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria are at risk of famine too.
“The lives of millions of young children are hanging in the balance,” said Jean Michel Grand, Executive Director for Action Against Hunger. “Many of them will not reach their fifth birthday. Our immediate priority today is to save lives. But needs are immense and, in many of the affected areas, we have reached a deadly tipping point. Humanitarian efforts must be scaled up immediately to help children survive. We must prevent another catastrophe.”
Preventable hunger threatens lives
South Sudan has already plunged into a preventable hunger catastrophe, with 100,000 people facing famine in Unity State. Nearly 1 in two people – 4.9 million people - are in urgent need of food assistance whilst an estimated 1 million people in other parts of South Sudan are on the brink of famine. Political upheaval and ongoing conflict - combined with widespread insecurity, inflation, food deficits and an unstable economy - have contributed to this spiraling humanitarian emergency.
In Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, an estimated 540,000 young children are at risk of dying from hunger this year. The conflict between security forces and Boko Haram in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, marked by extreme violence against civilians, has had a devastating impact on the lives of innocent children and their families, leading to widespread displacement, violations of international humanitairan law and an escalating humanitarian crisis.
In Somalia, half of the population is estimated to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance as they struggle to survive with limited access to health facilities, food and water. Children are bearing the brunt of the situation: an estimated 363,000 malnourished children are in danger unless they receive immediate life-saving treatment. Just six years after a devastating famine in the region claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 people, another man-made disaster catastrophe looms.
In Yemen, an estimated 3.2 million people have been internally displaced since the conflict escalated - mainly women and children. 14.1 million Yemenis do not know where their next meal will come from. In Hodeidah governate alone, a shocking one in three children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
Time is running out to save lives
Action Against Hunger teams are present in all four countries, providing lifesaving treatment for malnourished children and urgent access to food and water for their families. Our multisector emergency teams are responding, supporting emergency assessments and lifesaving humanitarian action where it is most needed.
Where we and partner organisations have access, we can and are saving lives.
But without political solutions and safe, unconditional access to populations in need, suffering will increase and more children will die.
Humanitarian workers face tremendous challenges in reaching malnourished children whose lives depend on urgent treatment and accessing sufficient funding to scale up programmes. In total breach of international humanitarian law, people are denied the lifesaving assistance they depend on for their survival.
“Famines are man-made. The warning signs are impossible to miss. The world shares a collective responsibility to take action today to prevent people from sliding even deeper into tragedy. The time to act is now: we cannot deny children a future,” said Mr Grand.
Whether we call the situation a famine or not, today children in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria are at risk of dying from hunger. As a non-political and neutral humanitarian organisation, we will continue to help people according to their needs and to provide aid without any discrimination of race, religion or ethnic origin. The time to act is now: we cannot fail innocent children.
January 25, 2017
Emergency food assistance needs unprecedented as Famine threatens four countries. (FEWSNet)
The combined magnitude, severity, and geographic scope of anticipated emergency food assistance needs during 2017 is unprecedented in recent decades.
Four countries – Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen – face a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). In order to save lives, continued efforts to resolve conflict and improve humanitarian access are essential. In addition, given the scale of anticipated need, donors and implementing partners should allocate available financial and human resources to those areas where the most severe food insecurity is likely.
Food insecurity during 2017 will be driven primarily by three factors. Most importantly, persistent conflict is disrupting livelihoods, limiting trade, and restricting humanitarian access across many regions. A second important driver is drought, especially those driven by the 2015/16 El Niño and the 2016/17 La Niña. In Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa, significantly below-average rainfall has sharply reduced crop harvests and severely limited the availability of water and pasture for livestock.
This marks the second consecutive year of extremely large needs, with the size of the acutely food insecure population roughly 40 percent higher than in 2015. The countries likely to have the largest acutely food insecure populations during 2017 are Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia.
In addition to the sheer size of the food insecure population, a persistent lack of access to adequate food and income has left households in the worst-affected countries with little ability to manage shocks. Given this reduced capacity to cope and the possibility that additional shocks will occur, four countries face a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) during 2017.
In Nigeria, evidence suggests that Famine occurred in 2016 and could be ongoing. In both Yemen and South Sudan the combination of persistent conflict, economic instability, and restricted humanitarian access makes Famine possible over the coming year. Finally in Somalia, a failure of the October to December 2016 Deyr rains and a forecast of poor spring rains threaten a repeat of 2011 when Famine led to the deaths of 260,000 Somalis. Emergency (IPC Phase 4), characterized by large food gaps, significant increases in the prevalence of acute malnutrition, and excess mortality among children.

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