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Updated On: Tuesday, November 21 2017

Pleas for Urgent Famine Relief

Content by: South-South News

4 May 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The world is facing one of the largest food crises in decades, with 30 million people in four countries — north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — severely food insecure, many on the brink of famine.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100,000 people are at risk, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July.

Speaking at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, Director-General José Graziano da Silva said “when we declare famine, it is because people are already dying of hunger, it’s not that they will die, they’re already dying.”

Graziano da Silva said “the latest IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) numbers show that nearly 30 million people are in severe acute food insecurity, the last stage before famine. 20 million of them are on the brink of famine, or are already in famine. And this is happening less than two years after all countries got together and committed to eradicate hunger by 2030.”

These four major food crises are largely driven by protracted conflict, exacerbated by the effects of extreme climate events. In South Sudan, for example, the famine being experienced in parts of Unity State is directly related to the effects of conflict. In Somalia, decades of conflict and instability have heightened vulnerability and undermined people’s capacity to cope with extreme climate events, like the current drought.

Speaking via teleconference from Geneva, the World Food Program’s (WFP) Executive-Director David Beasley said “we are talking about children dying every six to ten minutes in Yemen alone. So, every six to ten minutes, we need to put a face to a child that’s dying because we’re not getting the job done, as humanitarians around the world. The world needs to know the problem, how severe it is. And these are conflicts that are man-made. Between FAO and World Food Program and other humanitarian agencies, we have the strength, the structure, the logistical capacity, the technology, to get the job done. What we need, are resources, or an end of the conflicts. In the four countries that we are talking about, 30 million people are in need, and we are only reaching 8.4 million of them.”

Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the affected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink – agriculture can no longer be an afterthought.

A combination of food assistance and food production support is the only way to make any dent in the scale of hunger we are witnessing in these four countries. FAO and WFP are working very closely to ensure that emergency food assistance is linked to agricultural support as much as possible to save lives, protect livelihoods and build resilience.

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