World needs to act now to save millions from starving to death

LETTER

While much of the world has been distracted, ghastly conflict-fuelled tragedies have been unfolding in Yemen and three North African countries that could develop into the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

The numbers involved are staggering. More than 20 million people, a great percentage of them children, face death by starvation in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien says 1.4m children could die this year and $US4.4 billion is needed by July. Three weeks ago, making the same appeal, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that “despite some generous pledges” just $US90m had actually been received.

The worst hit is Yemen, where 14.1m people are at risk. A long civil war and a blockade of the port of Aden by a Saudi-led coalition involved in the fighting has added to the crisis there.

In Nigeria, 5.1m people face serious food shortages and starvation has killed more children than the murderous Islamist extremists of Boko Haram.

Famine has already been declared in two counties of South Sudan. About 5m people desperately need food.

In Somalia, almost 1m children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished this year.

The figures are almost too horrifying to contemplate and they will come as a surprise to many in the first world. It is estimated that every 10 minutes a child dies somewhere in the world from preventable causes.

Three of the countries are essentially failed states while in Nigeria, corruption has played a part. All have seen incompetence and mismanagement on a huge scale, with the Red Cross often left frustrated and powerless.

The crisis across these countries has slipped under the world’s radar in part because of media preoccupation with other issues like Donald Trump’s presidential win and the whirlwind of his first weeks in office.

Many people will wonder how in the 21st century crises like these have been allowed to develop. But they have, and urgently need the world’s full attention now.

While much of the world has been distracted, ghastly conflict-fuelled tragedies have been unfolding in Yemen and three North African countries that could develop into the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

The numbers involved are staggering. More than 20 million people, a great percentage of them children, face death by starvation in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien says 1.4m children could die this year and $US4.4 billion is needed by July. Three weeks ago, making the same appeal, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that “despite some generous pledges” just $US90m had actually been received.

The worst hit is Yemen, where 14.1m people are at risk. A long civil war and a blockade of the port of Aden by a Saudi-led coalition involved in the fighting has added to the crisis there.

In Nigeria, 5.1m people face serious food shortages and starvation has killed more children than the murderous Islamist extremists of Boko Haram.

Famine has already been declared in two counties of South Sudan. About 5m people desperately need food.

In Somalia, almost 1m children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished this year.

The figures are almost too horrifying to contemplate and they will come as a surprise to many in the first world. It is estimated that every 10 minutes a child dies somewhere in the world from preventable causes.

Three of the countries are essentially failed states while in Nigeria, corruption has played a part. All have seen incompetence and mismanagement on a huge scale, with the Red Cross often left frustrated and powerless.

The crisis across these countries has slipped under the world’s radar in part because of media preoccupation with other issues like Donald Trump’s presidential win and the whirlwind of his first weeks in office.

Many people will wonder how in the 21st century crises like these have been allowed to develop. But they have, and urgently need the world’s full attention now.

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Michael Pharaoh - 2 years ago
Hat off for at least acknowledging that this is happening. In the case of Yemen this is primarily caused by the war now driven by Saudi Arabia. The ports and warehouses have been bombed for the explicit purpose of starving the population into submission. So it will be very interesting to see if the Saudi/US alliance supports the shipping of food aid to their enemy . . . . And with the US and the UK supplying billions in weapons for the war, there is plenty of profit yet to be reaped. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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