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,
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.