UN warns against hunger crises in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen

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On Tuesday, the United Nations humanitarian office warned the International Community that millions of people in Yemen, South Sudan, and northern Nigeria are at risk of famine in the coming months or already facing it.

Enduring acute food insecurity, heavy constraints on humanitarian access, conflict, economic blows, and climate collapses mean urgent and at-scale targeted humanitarian action is needed to prevent hunger or death in these states, the experts of two UN agencies said in a joint paper. The three areas were among 20 “hunger hotspots” identified by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where existing acute food insecurity risks worsening further since July 2021.

A specific sub-group, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, are particularly in danger.Parts of their populations are already facing extreme exhaustion of livelihoods, insufficient food waste, and high acute malnutrition, the joint report suggested. The UN agencies stressed that in such fragile contexts, any further clashes could push a significant number of people over the brink and into destitution and even starvation.

In parts of Jonglei state in South Sudan, the UN agencies said famine was already occurring, and “urgent, at-scale action is now needed to stop likely widespread starvation and death”.Overall, in South Sudan, some 7.2 million people are expected to be in a food crisis, with high malnutrition or just marginally meeting minimal food needs, from April to July.Some 2.4 million people are classified as in an “emergency” situation, with 108,000 people in the agencies’ catastrophe grouping.

Urgent action is also required to prevent further destitution in parts of Yemen, the report said, with the number of people in or nearly in famine estimated to triple from 16,000 last October-December to more than 47,000 this June.Those facing acute food insecurity in Yemen will rise by three million, it said, to 16.2 million people, with five million in an emergency.

Meanwhile, in conflict-affected areas of northern Nigeria, the number of people facing a crisis will likely double year on year to over 1.2 million by August 2021. “Overall, in the next six months, northern Nigeria is expected to face a marked deterioration of food security and nutrition, due to conflict and economic factors, aggravated by the secondary effects of COVID-19,” it stated.

There was some improvement, last November, the UN agencies ranked Burkina Faso as a fourth country at risk of famine alongside South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria.But the alarm in Burkina Faso had slightly reduced for the coming months, after a good harvest and improved delivery of food assistance to remote and inaccessible areas.Continued war in the zone, however, means the situation continues to be very concerning.

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