by Marina Souliman
More than 20 million people in four countries are on the brink of starvation, making it the largest humanitarian crisis the United Nations (UN) has ever faced. Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria are confronting famine and starvation if they do not gain assistance.
All of the countries have had different conflicts that have displaced many people. Yemen faces a civil war that has caused intense economic instability. In Yemen, almost two thirds of the population, approximately 18.8 million people, need help. Seven million people are categorized as hungry and are unaware of where their next meal will come from, an increase of three million people since January.
Half of Somalia’s population require humanitarian assistance and protection, 2.9 million who require immediate help to survive. About one million children under the age of five are malnourished this year.
Similarly, South Sudan has faced a three year civil war which has caused a man-made famine. Approximately 7.5 million people need aid, an increase of 1.4 million from the previous year. Displacement of 3.4 million South Sudanese people due to the fighting has also added to the famine.
“More than one million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country, including 270,000 children who face the imminent risk of death should they not be reached in time with assistance. Meanwhile, the cholera outbreak that began in June 2016 has spread to more locations,” Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, said.
Furthermore, in northeast Nigeria, uprisings by Boko Haram has displaced 2.6 million people. Some communities have been hit the hardest, losing all their toddlers due to starvation.
O’Brien has asked for $4.4 billion by July in order to fight the impending catastrophe. Approximately $2.2 billion is needed in order to save 12 million Yemenis but only 6 percent has been provided.