Some 20 million people in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria are on the brink of famine or are already experiencing it, said the United Nations Security Council. Natural disaster is a contributing factor, but much of the problem is man-made or exacerbated by humans.
In South Sudan, a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar escalated into a civil war in December 2013 that continues unabated today. Nearly 6 million South Sudanese people face life-threatening hunger.
In Yemen, civil war has destabilized the economy, crippled agricultural production and trade, and sent the price of food skyrocketing. 7 million people are in need of emergency food assistance, and another 10 million go hungry more often than not.
In north-eastern Nigeria, Boko Haram attacks have displaced millions and severely curtailed the production of food.Around 5.2 million people face severe food insecurity.
Similarly, in Somalia, fighting and violence caused by al-Shabaab militants have grossly exacerbated a humanitarian catastrophe caused by drought.
The situation in all four countries has been aggravated by the refusal of parties to the conflicts to allow humanitarian workers and aid delivery to those in desperate need.
On August 9, the United Nations Security Council adopted a Presidential statement, noting that ongoing conflict and violence had devastating humanitarian consequences, hindered an effective humanitarian response, and were, therefore, a major cause of famine. The Council called upon all parties in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-east Nigeria to take immediate steps that would enable a more effective humanitarian response. The UN also challenged the global community to help blunt this humanitarian disaster by contributing generously.
“Famine is an issue of peace and security,” said U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.“With the adoption of this statement, the Security Council has finally acknowledged the clear link between conflict and famine. This is a man-made crisis, and people are dying of hunger because of man-made conflict.
“The Security Council must continue to demand access for food and other life-saving supplies and services for these vulnerable areas, and we must hold governments and armed groups blocking access accountable.