Sunday, March 12, 2017

UN Warns of Greatest Crisis in Decades: More than 20 Million Facing Starvation

The world is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, the UN's humanitarian chief told the international body on Friday.

More than 20 million people are facing starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, and to avoid "catastrophe," the organization needs $4.4 billion for direct aid to those countries by July, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council.

"We stand at a critical point in history," he said, the BBC reported. "Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations…. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease."

Following that immediate impact will be the repercussions of hungry children being unable to attend school, economic and social development processes slowing and reversing, instability due to displacement and "livelihoods, futures and hope lost," he said.

UNICEF reported last month that 1.4 million children were at risk of starving.

The crisis is greatest in Yemen, O'Brien reported, where 18.8 million people — the majority of the population — need some form of aid and more than 7 million are hungry. Three million people have become food insecure in Yemen since only the beginning of the year, he said, and more than 48,000 have fled fighting in the country since then.

Twelve million Yemenis need life-saving assistance and protection for 2017, which will cost $2.1 billion. So far, only 6% of that sum has been received, O'Brien said.

He blamed all sides in the conflict between the Saudi-backed government of Yemen and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for failing the suffering population.

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