The Worst Humanitarian Crisis: Tens of Millions In Need Of Aid

Currently, it seems evident that there is not enough coverage from the media onSouth Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria, despite the severity of what the people in these four countries are enduring. According to The Famine Early Warning System, the global hunger levels are at the worst in decades. In order to understand what is happening, I will break it down as the following,

South Sudan

Earlier the week, the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan. The U.N. stated that the war and crippling economy has resulted in 100,000 people suffering from starvation in South Sudan. The severe food shortage crisis has been announced to be located in parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of South Sudan.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and other U.N. agencies estimated that a further 1 million people living in South Sudan are at high risk of famine and that unrestricted humanitarian access is urgently required in order to reverse what they called “an escalating catastrophe.”

According to a recent and updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, around 4.9 million people, which is more than 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in desperate need of food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. In addition, the data that the IPC report was based on was collected over recent months, and they added that the amount of food insecure people is expected to increase to 5.5 million in July if urgent assistance is not provided in order to reduce the severity of the famine.

Due to conflict last year, food production in South Sudan suffered and market failure has left the people of South Sudan struggling to cope with the massive change in price rises for basic food items.

The WFP aims to provide humanitarian assistance, which includes emergency food, cash, and nutrition assistance to 4.1 million people this year, during the “hunger season,” which is when food from the last harvest has run out but new crops haven’t come in yet.”
It is reported that the U.K. will provide South Sudan and Somalia aid packages of £100 million each after the announcement of famine in South Sudan and continued warnings of famine in Somalia. The U.K.’s humanitarian contribution is believed to help more than a million people, as it will provide food, safe drinking water, and emergency healthcare in the regions worst affected by violence and drought.


The UN warns that Somalia is on the edge of famine, as NGO’s struggle to provide humanitarian aid for the millions of starving people. According to Oxfam, the recurring drought, decades of conflict and lack of infrastructure have left the economy in a fragile state. Currently, over 700,000 people in Somalia rely on humanitarian support as a means of survival. More than 2 million remain in a state of acute crisis. Due to the increasing violence, 1 million Somali refugees have fled to Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Uganda and 1 million Somali refugees remain internally displaced. However, the conflict in Yemen has resulted in thousands and Somalis and Yemenis coming back to Somalia, struggling to find safety. It is estimated that 336,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

People in Somalia are struggling to survive as the drought has limited water and food while the cost for basic foods increases. For example, the price of maize in Qorioley (Lower Shabelle Region) is now 51 percent above the five-year average, and the price of sorghum in Baidoa (Bay Region) is 88 percent above average. It is expected that these prices will continue to increase in the next six months.


The U.N. also warns that Nigeria will suffer from famine in 2017. UNICEF estimatedthat in north-eastern Nigeria, 450,000 children under the age of five are at a high risk of suffering from acute malnutrition this year, with up to 20% of them dying if we continue to ignore them.

Nigeria’s hunger crisis has occurred because of the uprising of the Islamic extremist group known as Boko Haram, which has perpetrated an immense about of violence. Since conflict broke out in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and over 2 million people have been displaced, while it is estimated that 1.8 million people remain internally displaced. More than 10 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

On Friday, an international conference hosted by Nigeria, Norway and Germanywas held in Oslo, in order to discuss increasing funds for the crisis in north-east Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad region. The UN stated that a total of $1.5 billion was needed to ensure the prevention of famine. Donors pledge $672 million to fund humanitarian assistance. Aid agencies must get food to 3 million people before July in order to prevent famine.


Yemen is also at severe risk of facing famine this year if efficient actions aren’t taken. More than 7.3 million people urgently need food assistance and more than 460,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition right now in Yemen, which means it has increased by 63% this year. Jamie McGoldrick from OCHA (office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) for Yemen stated,

“I think it’s creating one of the world worst humanitarian disasters. The possibility and threat of famine is looming.”

Yemen’s food insecurity began due to conflict, which killed thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. A Saudi-led coalition, which is supported by western countries such as the UK and US, has been the cause of the humanitarian crisis, as innocent civilians are falling victim to the violence, which is increasing the poverty rates and destroying health services, stopping people from receiving help.

Check out how you can help Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen as they are amidst one of the worst humanitarian crisis.


Tackling Female Genital Mutilation In Developing Countries

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to the practice of the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia. There are four types of FGM and all of them are conducted for non-medical reasons, but is usually done for social, cultural or religious reasons. FGM has no health benefits what so ever; instead girls and women who have undergone FGM usually suffer from long-term health problems,including serious bleeding, infection, infertility and even death. It is usually practiced in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia; however, it has also been practiced in Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and North America.

Girls and women who have undergone FGM are usually under the age of 15 and it is usually conducted against the girl’s well and consent. It is estimated that more than 200 million women and girls are affected by FGM and it is practiced in around 30 countries. Traditional practitioners who have no real medical training usually conduct FGM procedures and the equipment and tools used are usually unsafe and anesthetics are normally not used.

The practice of FGM has decreased throughout years and much more people are against the practice, as international originations and NGO’s have brought more awareness to the issue. Despite this fact, around three million girls living in Africa are still at risk of FGM and it is estimated that 30 million girls and women are expected to face FGM in the next decade. Tackling FGM requires more than just giving communities or victims aid and money, as multiple reports on FGM show that in order to achieve a long-term goal of preventing FGM, communities that practice this must change their attitude and mentality towards FGM, as it is apparent that it has become somewhat of a social norm in many communities in developing nations.

It is evident that people’s economic and social status, community, age, and education are factors that contribute towards support for FGM. For example, AUNICEF report on FGM shows that younger women are less likely to not support FGM, as oppose to older women who are more likely in support of the practice, as the support for FGM from women aged 15 to 19 is 34% in Egypt, compared to 59% of women aged 45 to 49. The support for FGM among women is higher in poorer households compared to women who come from richer households. For example, the same UNICEF report shows that nearly 80% of women in poorer household support FGM in Somalia, whereas fewer than 50% of women who come from richer households support FGM in Somalia. In addition, girls and women with no education are significantly more likely to support FGM. The report estimated that the support among women with no education in Sierra Leone is around 85%, as oppose to under 40% of women with secondary or higher education that supports FGM in Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, it is apparent that in areas where FGM is less prevalent the more people don’t support it, whereas in areas with higher prevalence there appears to be more support. For example, the previous UNICEF report used shows that around 90% of women don’t support FGM in Ghana, but it is estimated that around 4% of women aged 15-49 have undergone FGM and only 1% for girls aged 0-15 have also undergone FGM in Ghana. Whereas, in Mali around 75% of women support FGM and the prevalence rate for FGM in Mali among women aged 15-49 is nearly 90%.The reasons behind support for FGM among women is for social acceptance, despite the vast majority stating it has no benefits because in Guinea nearly 65% of women reported they support it for social acceptance. The majority of boys and men also stated there are no benefits, but for those who do support FGM, it is mainly for social acceptance, as 42% of men in Sierra Leone also cited social acceptance for justification and support of FGM.

Therefore, the reality of FGM is much more complex and difficult to overcome, as after reading multiple different reports from NGO’s that conducted surveys and in-depth research on FGM in areas with the highest prevalence, it has become apparent that it is a social norm, which is difficult to change. In communities where it is conducted it is a socially upheld behavioral rule, meaning families and individuals support the practice because they believe that their group or society expects them to do so. The abandonment of subjecting girls and women to FGM requires a process of social change that results in new expectations on families.

Nigeria’s Humanitarian Crisis Is Being Ignored By Europe

(Originally posted on February 2, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

Recently, the U.N. Assistant Secretary General and lead humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer stated that European countries have made little efforts to address northern Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis, as the crisis continues to be ignored. Lanzer also stated that the situation facing the Lake Chad region is also in the EU’s broader interests, as he stated, “It’s not only that we want Nigeria to be stable for the prosperity of that country and its people,” he said. “Also, it’s in our broader interests at home.” Lanzer continues to state that; “this is a double win if you want. You don’t want the most populous country on the African continent becoming increasingly unstable; at the same time, you want people there prospering and not having to flee violence or seek opportunity elsewhere.”

Currently, it is estimated that in the Lake Chad region, which straddles the borders of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, there are more than 10 million people in desperate and urgent need of humanitarian assistance, which Lanzer stated was as bad as any he had seen in 20 years.

Northern Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis occurred after the uprising of the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram. Since conflict and violence broke out in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and over 2 million people have been displaced, while it is estimated that 1.8 million people remain internally displaced.

A major donor conference will be held in Oslo, in which Nigeria, Germany, and Norway will come together to discuss the current matters regarding Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borge Brende, stated, “this crisis has been largely overlooked. We are therefore seeking to mobilize greater international involvement and increased funding for humanitarian efforts to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.” This conference will be conducted on the 24th of February.

In December, the UN called on global donors for $1.5 billion, in order to provide the urgent humanitarian assistance needed for the crisis in the Lake Chad region,including $1.05 billion for Nigeria. The 2016 appeal was originally for $531 million and had only received 53% of its funding, as of this month.

“There are about 515,000 children who are at risk of starvation right now, so step up, Netherlands; step up, Denmark. You have got to show some solidarity now and it is in your interests to do so.” Said Lanzer.

Aid Agencies Accused Of Profiting From Borno Crisis

(Originally posted on January 15, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

The Governor of Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state, Kashim Shettima, accused aid agencies of profiting off of the Borno crisis and not distributing the money where it is needed.

The Borno crisis is the result of a terrorist group called Boko Haram, who is perpetrating violence upon civilians, which has caused widespread displacement and a growing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. This has resulted in up to 2.1 million fleeing their homes and according to UNOCHA more than 4.8 million people are now in urgent need of food assistance and 5.1 are believed to suffer from severe food shortages if not helped by the humanitarian community in 2017.

The Governor accused aid agencies such as the UN children’s fund and UNICEF of profiting from money that is supposed to go towards helping those fleeing Boko Haram’s Islamic uprising. Shettima stated that only eight of 126 registered agencies were achieving “good work”, including the WFP, UN Population Fund, the Red Cross, the International Origination for Migration, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Danish Refugee Council.

The Governor made these accusations recently to MPs and journalists at the state legislature in Borno’s main city of Maiduguri. He stated, “people that are really ready to work are very much welcome here. But people that are here only to use us to make money may as well leave.” Shettima also stated that people were profiting “from the agony of our people.”

The Governor argued that the UN are wasting funds on bullet-proof vehicles. He stated, “We hardly know what the UN agencies are doing.” He said. “We only see them in some white flashy bullet-proof jeeps; apart from that, we hardly see their visible impact.” However, the UN have a reason for their use of expensive vehicles, as last year a UN convoy returning from a camp in rural Borno was attacked by Boko Haram fighters, in which everyone survived due to the safety and security of the vehicles.

UNICEF ‘s latest report said the agency treated 160,000 children under five who were suffering from severe acute malnutrition in 2016. They helped to provide health care for 4.2 million in the war zone, brought safe clean water to 745,000 people and in addition, they provided more than 1 million people with hygiene kits and education. Aid agencies have accused the government of hiding the extent of the humanitarian crisis, while the government has accused aid agencies of exaggerating the humanitarian crisis.

New York Governor Proposes Free College Tuition

(Originally posted on January 5, 2017, from Affinity Magazine)

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York proposed a plan that will enable hundreds of thousands of middle- and low-income New Yorkers to enroll in a state college for free.

Cuomo pledged that tuition fees would be covered for college students who have been accepted into a New York state or city university, including 2-year community college if their family earns $125,000 or less a year. If Cuomo’s proposal goes further, New York will be following in the footsteps of states such as Tennessee and Oregon, who have implemented programs to cover the costs of community college.

New York currently has one of the lowest tuition rates in America. It is estimated that current full-time tuition at four-year State University of New York schools for residents is $6,470 and for two-year community colleges, the cost is $4,350. Full-time costs for City University of New York schools are about the same.

Cuomo’s plan would include four-year schools, including dozens of campuses that are part of the state university system, as well as the city’s university system. In addition, the state would complete students’ tuition payments by supplementing existing state and federal grant programs, which are essentially covering the balance, although it is reported that administration officials said some students could have their entire four-year education covered.

The Governor proposed his plan at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens, whilst being accompanied by Senator Bernie Sanders, who called the plan, “a revolutionary idea for higher education.” Sanders also added that the plan “is a message that is going to provide hope and optimism for working-class families all across the state.”

Cuomo hopes that his plan can be implemented as soon as possible, with a three-year rollout beginning in the fall, with a $100,000 income limit, rising to $125,000 by 2019.

Currently, it is unclear how much exactly Cuomo’s plan will cost, but the administration estimated that the state’s annual outlay would be $163 million by 2019, however, this estimate will change depending on a number of people participating in this program. Around 400,000 students attend state or city universities full-time, but with a tuition-free system, this could increase the student population by 10 percent by 2019.

Cuomo stated, “This society should say, ‘We’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful. And New York State — New York State is going to do something about it.”

Refugees And Migrants Are Falling Victim To Human Traffickers

(originally posted December 26, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)

The number of migrants and refugees has been increasing worldwide over the last few years, which has resulted in migrants and refugees being more vulnerable to human traffickers.

A UN study found that an influx of migrants and refugees has contributed to a rise in male and child refugees being abused by human traffickers.

While it is estimated that women and girls make up over 70% of all human trafficking victims because they tend to be trafficked for marriage or sexual slavery, the UN report found that men and boys tend to be exploited for forced labor, porters, soldiers and slaves. The number of male trafficking victims globally has increased from 13% in 2004 to 21% in 2014. In addition, it is also estimated that the percentage of trafficking victims placed into forced labor has risen from 32% in 2007 to 38% in 2014, and of that 38%, almost two-thirds were male.

The UNODC’S global report on trafficking reported that children account for nearly a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide. In regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean, the number is increasing to around two-thirds.

Head of the UN Office on Drugs and crime, Yury Fedotov, highlights how those fleeing their countries from conflict are more vulnerable and prone to human trafficking, due to their devastating situation;

“The rapid increase in the number of Syrian victims of trafficking in persons following the start of the conflict there, for instance, seems to be one example of how these vulnerabilities play out.”

According to an EU report on human trafficking, which was conducted at the beginning of 2016, criminal gangs were the main perpetrators that were forcing and exploiting refugees and migrants into sex work and other forms of slavery. The report estimated that around 96,000 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in Europe in 2015, which is around one-fifth of the total number of child refugees in Europe. However, the EU police agency reported in early 2016 that around 10,000 of unaccompanied child refugees and migrants went missing since arriving in Europe. During this time, around 4,700 child refugees had been missing, according to German authorities

It was estimated that Human smugglers have taken advantage of hundreds of vulnerable refugees, in order to make a profit by exploiting refugee’s misery. Last year it was reported that human smugglers accumulated a record profit between £2bn and £4bn ($3bn-$6bn.) Many refugees have little knowledge about asylum, therefore they are more likely to seek help from human smugglers, which is why human smugglers made such a large profit off of refugees last year.

calais.jpgImage of Calais Jungle camp via Getty Images

The Calais Jungle camp is a refugee camp in Calais, France, and is a prime example of the horrible conditions that some refugees have to endure, and how these refugees are vulnerable to human traffickers. The camp consists of disgusting living conditions, very basic shelter, inadequate hygiene, and little personal security. The estimated number of refugees living in the camp varies, as an operation to clear the camp has taken place since October 2016. It is currently estimated that roughly 6,000 people have been living there since the dismantling of the camp. Many of these refugees have fallen victim to human trafficking and young girls are at high risk of sexual exploitation.

The US Department of State uploaded ’15 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking’ on their website, in order for you to become more informed on the issue and what you can do to help tackle it. Donating to NGO’s can also provide refugees with safer living situations that will reduce the risk of sexual exploitation and other forms of slavery. Donating to NGO’s such as UNICEF, Oxfam,, Refugee Action and much more can help improve the life’s of refugees while tackling human trafficking.

How Do Homeless Women Cope With Periods?


(originally posted on December 19, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)

For anyone who has to endure periods, you know just how awful it truly is, but for homeless women, it is a whole different story.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2015 annual homeless assessment report, 39.7% of all homeless people in the United States are women. 50,000 of those women are unsheltered and living on the streets. This means that for homeless women, they often won’t know where to turn when they are trying to take care of their feminine hygiene needs, which therefore often leads to many homeless women having to make the difficult decision between food and tampons.

This problem directly correlates with the cost of sanitary products, as the average cost for sanitary products per package in the United States is $5.84 for pads and $7.62 for tampons. It is also estimated that the average annual cost for pads is $70 and $90 for tampons. In Britain, the average cost for a box of tampons from supermarkets is between 2 to 3 pounds, which is normally the same price for pads. However, local shops tend to sell pads and tampons as high as £5. The average person who has a period knows that other items such medication for cramps, new underwear, hot water bottles and chocolates can accumulate to be rather expensive, which means that those additional items to help treat periods are not an option for homeless women.

A short video conducted by ‘Bustle’ shows just how difficult that time of the month can be for homeless women. The women talked about how they have used plastic bags, towels, napkins, socks and many other items as an alternative to tampons or pads. Because of this, they are more prone to getting infections and homeless women who can purchase tampons are much more prone to toxic shock syndrome because they are more likely to have them in for a longer duration of time. One woman, Alexa, stated, “I’d rather be clean than full.” Homeless women don’t have the option of buying new clothes if they bleed on them during their period, and this can be an extremely embarrassing situation, which will often damage their dignity.

It is reported that homeless shelters don’t always provide these essentials because they are deemed to be ‘luxury’ products. This also goes for some prisons and schools.

Many different movements and organisations have pushed for more awareness, as this issue needs to be addressed. Hashtag Happy Period being one of them. Happy Period’s aim is to provide menstrual hygiene kits to the homeless who would otherwise go without out. They recognize and support teenagers, nonbinary, and the LGBTQ community. The Homeless Period is another movement, which addresses this issue, as they believe that tampons and towels should be made available to homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms.

You can support this cause by donating tampons and towels to homeless shelters, or directly giving these essential products to homeless women, or checking out Hashtag Happy Period and The Homeless Period to get involved.