Famines that will kill 20 million if nothing is done

Famines that will kill 20 million if nothing is done

More than 20 million people are at risk of dying of starvation over the next six months in four separate famines, warns Arif Husain, the chief economist of the UN World Food Program (WFP).

Fighting in Yemen, northeastern Nigeria and southern Sudan has devastated several regions and raised prices. In eastern Africa, drought has ruined traditional agriculture.

“I have been working for the World Food Program for nearly 15 years and this is the first time we have literally spoken of starvation in four different regions of the world at the same time,” Arif Husain told Reuters.

“It’s almost overwhelming to realize that in the 21st century people continue to experience famines of such magnitude. We’re talking about 20 million people, and all of that in the next six months, or right now. In Yemen, it is now, in Nigeria, it is now, in South Sudan, it is now. 

“In Somalia, when I see that the indicators show extremely high food prices as well as cattle prices and farm incomes falling, things are going very fast,” he said.

These famines constitute an additional source of tension for the global humanitarian aid system, already confronted with a historical rise in migratory flows, mobilized by ongoing operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and demanded by tense situations in several countries Such as Ukraine, Libya and Zimbabwe, he said.

“And then there are places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Central Africa, Burundi, Mali and Niger where food insecurity is chronic. Simply does not have enough resources to make it happen. “

No solution in view
If international humanitarian aid reaches unprecedented levels, demand grows faster, thus widening the gap between needs and means, he explains.

In northeastern Nigeria, we feed more than one million people, whereas a few months ago we did not even have an office there.

Arif Husain from WFP
There is little hope that the drought in Somalia will not be as severe as some fear, but in the capital, Mogadishu, food prices have already increased by 25% since the beginning of January and forecasts for the rainy season , From March to May, are not optimistic.

In 2011, the famine killed some 260,000 people in Somalia, while the harvest season had been good, but not the last two.

In South Sudan, food prices have doubled or even quadrupled in one year.
In Yemen, many families have already had to separate themselves from their gold, silver or weapon assets.“I was in Yemen two weeks ago,” says Arif Husain, “There is food on the market, but people are not paid, especially in cities, which make up about a third of the population. “(…)

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