Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen—four countries facing the threat of famine. On-going violence has devastated investments in agriculture, and millions may now die of hunger. Earlier this year, the United Nations issued an urgent appeal for $4.9 billion, but as of August only half the money had been received. CGTN’s Nick Harper has details.
Getting food to 20 million people, spread across vast areas of land in four nations, would be challenging in peacetime. But it’s further complicated by the conflicts in these countries.
“The security situation on the ground is often so bad that we cannot reach these populations that need to receive that food,” said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Muslim extremists in Nigeria and Somalia, ethnic strife in South Sudan, and civil war in Yemen. The fighting is not only creating food insecurity, it’s making it harder to resolve. To avert famine in these countries, the UN and aid groups engage in longer-term peace and development efforts.
“The kinds of early investments that the donors are making in peace-building and stabilization and resilience are key to the success of our diplomatic efforts to resolve the political disputes, as well as to our military and peace-building efforts to marginalize groups like al Shabaab,” said Senior Policy Scholar Corinne Graff at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
But with the U.S. proposing to cut in half the money it gives to peacekeeping, these interventions may be harder to fund. As it is, UN donations are far from hitting targets.
According to data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this year Yemen and Somalia are less than 50% funded—a shortfall of more than $2 billion dollars for these two countries alone.
“It’s extremely difficult because there are so many competing needs, humanitarian needs, around the world,” said Redmond. “On top of that, there’s a certain fatigue that has set in among some donors. The international community sometimes looks at these as if they are hopeless.”
A push for financial support from world leaders is essential at any UN General Assembly. The threat of four famines hanging over this year’s meeting will make those requests even more pressing.