United Nations urges action to avert world's 'largest humanitarian crisis'

Posted March 12, 2017

20M+ face starvation, famine - UNOCHA https://t.co/LZxZ5HR9OQ pic.twitter.com/1w6rFMKSyj- United Nations (UN) March 10, 2017 "Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine", O'Brien added. "To be precise", Mr O'Brien said, "we need US$4.4 billion (S$6.2 billion) by July".

He said in an address to Security Council, "Today we are in a very hard phase of the history and the world faces the worst humanitarian crisis since its (UN) creation". "Parties to the conflict are parties to the starvation - as are those not intervening to make the violence stop".

With the ongoing conflicts in the region, 12 million people in Yemen, 7.5 million in South Sudan, 6.2 million in Somalia, and 10.7 million in Nigeria need immediate assistance, with majority facing severe food insecurity and a real risk of starving to death.

Mr O'Brien said the largest humanitarian crisis is in Yemen where two-thirds of the population - 18.8 million people - need aid and more than seven million people are hungry.

They have warned some 19 million people - or two thirds of Yemen's population - is in need of some sort of humanitarian help following two years of war between Houthi insurgents and the government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Without the assistance, however, "many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost, and political gains that have been hard-won over the last few years will be reversed".

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In Somalia more than half the population - 6.2 million people - need humanitarian assistance, including 2.9 million who are at risk of starvation and require immediate help "to save or sustain their lives".

"That is three million people more than in January", he added. Counted among them are 450,000 children who the agency says will face severe, acute malnutrition this year if they do not get help. "They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on", he said.

Further in his briefing, Mr. O'Brien informed the Council of the outcomes of the Oslo Conference on the Lake Chad Basin where 14 donors pledged a total of $672 million, of which $458 million is for humanitarian action in 2017.

In Nigeria, more than 2 million have been displaced during the government's almost eight-year-long violent conflict with the Boko Haram militant group, and the United Nations estimates that 7 million need assistance there. "Yemen, northern Nigeria and Somalia are also on the brink of famine", analysts said.

The humanitarian chief said in Somalia the current indicators mirrored the tragic picture of 2011 in the country when some 260,000 people died of starvation. But we need the access and the funds to do more.