The United Nations and its humanitarian agencies need to raise $5.6 billion to avoid four catastrophic famines.
In a race against time to prevent four famines in Africa and western Asia, the U.N. and its humanitarian agencies need to raise $5.6 billion, fast.
The United Nations had raised just $90 million — 2 cents for every dollar it needs to provide food for those most in need — by the end of February, the latest available figures show.
The bulk of the money — $4.4 billion — is needed within the next week to help fight the crisis, David Orr, World Food Program spokesman, said Thursday at a Johannesburg news conference.
All four hardest hit countries, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, are affected by war, making it difficult for humanitarians to deliver aid to starving people.
In South Sudan and northeastern Nigeria, fighting has forced people to flee their homes, prevented farmers from planting and harvesting and cut trade routes, Somalia has been hit by severe drought, and Yemen has seen widespread destruction coupled with restrictions on imports of food and fuel.
The World Food Program, the food assistance branch of the U.N., alone needs $1.2 billion, including $472 million for Yemen, $286 million for Somalia, $232 million for northeast Nigeria and $231 million for South Sudan.
In the next two months, when the rainy season begins in South Sudan, the dirt roads are expected to turn to a quagmire, making it impossible for aid trucks to pass and leaving 60% of the country inaccessible.
Last month, the U.N. declared a famine in two counties in Unity State, South Sudan, affecting 100,000 people, areas hit hard for the past three years by successive hunger emergencies because of fighting and attacks. An additional 1 million people in South Sudan are facing a severe hunger emergency and the threat of famine.
Famines are also looming in Somalia, northeastern Nigeria and Yemen, with a total of 20 million people in dire need of food and medical assistance.
Drought has already uprooted 250,000 people in Somalia, according to Susannah Price, of the UNICEF office in Somalia. Many are abandoning rural villages where crops and animals have died, walking to major towns hoping to get access to food aid.
Experts are predicting that rains due in Somalia in coming months will be inadequate. The drought, the worst in decades, comes with warnings the El Nino phenomenon that triggered it could be repeated this year, with meteorological experts predicting at least a 55% likelihood of a rare event — back-to-back El Nino weather patterns.
If that happens, the result for countries in southern and eastern Africa could be devastating, with countries like Somalia already weathering successive years of drought, crop failure and livestock deaths.
“The severity of this drought is extreme,” said Challis McDonough, WFP spokeswoman in Nairobi, referring to Somalia. “If the rains fail in coming months, it will be the worst drought in 60 to 70 years. If those rains fail, as they are predicting, that is where we’re looking at the situation deteriorating, so we might move into famine.”
“In this case we are talking about some of the poorest communities on the planet, who are also affected by conflict and insecurity. The global crises are just so enormous, with these four crises and Syria and Iraq that it’s stretched the humanitarian community,” she said, referring the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that have seen millions flee their homes.
Price said even rains in Somalia will not solve the crisis.
“There are already too many people on the move. The animals are dying,” she said. “The animals used to produce the milk. Now they’re giving [children] black tea.
“The children are getting sick,” she said. “As water sources dry up, people go to unsafe water sources. That results in acute watery diarrhea or cholera. Both are life-threatening diseases.”
In South Sudan, myriad militias and government soldiers unleash attacks on civilian villages, killing men and raping women. People have fled into the bush, making it difficult for humanitarian agencies to provide help. At times, humanitarian compounds, where aid agencies store food, have been looted by militias.
“There’s a lot of guns and a lot of armed people and a lot of issues between communities,” McDonough said. “If there’s active fighting, we can’t go in helicopters and start throwing food out. It’s crucial that we are not drawing (people) out of the bush to give them food only to have them attacked for that food.”
Getting safe humanitarian access requires complicated negotiations with men from multiple armed groups, from commander level to community level, she said.
“We have got staff working around the clock on these issues. It’s not getting any easier,” McDonough said.
Earlier this month, South Sudan’s government, the second most corrupt on Earth, according to Transparency International, drew criticism when it announced it planned to charge foreign aid workers a $10,000 work permit fee, up from $100.
“In South Sudan, corruption isn’t an anomaly within the system; it is the system itself, the very purpose of the state,” according to a report the Enough Project human rights group released Tuesday. The report blamed greed, corruption and poor governance by the country’s leaders for the famine.
“War tactics include village burning, sexual slavery, burning of food stocks, denial of aid access, mass rape, forced conscription of children, and killing of civilians. Mass atrocities become routinized,” the report said. “In South Sudan today, war crimes pay. There is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources, or for the famine that has resulted.”
McDonough said with multiple emergencies unrolling in Africa and elsewhere, hungry families in countries such as Kenya and Uganda, those facing dire food shortages — but not famine — have to survive on half the normal WFP emergency ration.
- 97 Ways Of Saying The Same Hateful Thing: 'Get Out Of America'
- Europe closes mixed; Stoxx 600 reaches yearly highs amid geopolitical concerns
- Warplanes strike Syrian town hit by chemical attack last week
- Canada's foreign aid bucks global trend, drops under Trudeau: OECD report
- Teacher wins $1M global prize for work in northern Quebec
- Chinese president calls Trump, urging peaceful resolution of North Korea tensions
- The millennials cashing in on Africa's internet addiction
- New U.N. chief confronts the ‘nightmare’ of Somalia’s food crisis
- Trump’s plan to slash foreign aid comes as famine threat is surging
- Famine declared in South Sudan, with 100,000 people facing starvation
- Cease-fire frays in Syria’s south as rebels launch new offensive
- Gloria Steinem's next chapter: Educating girls in rural Africa
You might also like
- Dan Stevens channels his beastly side in 'Beauty and the Beast' prologue dance
- How the new 'Beauty and the Beast' empowers Belle's inner feminist with books, not boys
- Carrie Fisher's 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' scenes will not be changed, plus new details about the Han Solo film
- Women rule, and other lessons from Universal's CinemaCon presentation
- Two black employees sue Fox News, accusing their ex-boss of racist behavior
- Theater owner group CEO: Blaming theatrical windows for piracy is 'completely crazy'
- NBC's 2018 Olympics coverage will air live in all time zones
- Disney film executive delivers sobering message on changing cinema business
- Studios want to get you rental movies much quicker — for a price
- Jim Gianopulos is tasked with turning around struggling Paramount Pictures
- Writers Guild of America will ask members to authorize a strike as contract talks falter
- Dodgers TV standoff lives on as AT&T, Justice settle lawsuit
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- South Africa’s credit rating just got downgraded to junk. Could this be the end for Jacob Zuma?
- South Africa leader fires finance minister in late-night purge, sparking currency plunge
- With 20 million people facing starvation, Trump's foreign aid cuts strike fear
- The millennials cashing in on Africa's internet addiction
- Somalia: 'People are dying..there's no water'
- Abuja airport shutdown 'hugely embarrassing'
- Christians flee their homes after ISIS attacks in Egypt
- Award-winning photos capture life on the farmlands of rural Africa
- 'The Wound': Is this Africa's 'Moonlight' moment?
- Somalia drought: 110 die amid fears of famine
- Zimbabwe's Mugabe turns 93; lauds Trump's nationalist stance
- M-Pesa: Kenya's mobile success story turns 10
- Kasha Nabagesera: The face of Uganda's LGBT movement
- In South Africa, a protest against foreigners turns violent. Why was it allowed to go ahead?
- Nigerian president disdains his country's best hospital for medical care in Britain. But what ails him?
- In Madagascar, mothers weep and send their children to bed without water to drink
- Famine strikes in South Sudan, as people in four countries face starvation
- Kenya's High Court rules against government plan to close the world's biggest refugee camp
- In Somalia, famine is looming and families with no food or water are leaving their land
- African leaders amp up pressure on the International Criminal Court, with a plan for mass exit