Mass starvation looms over Yemen, Africa amid donations shortfall

Mass starvation looms over Yemen, Africa amid donations shortfall
The UN and relief agencies reiterate calls to plug a shortfall in funding as 'inevitable' humanitarian disasters loom over parts of Africa and the Middle East.
2 min read
12 April, 2017
UNHCR's work in three countries has only receive between 3-11 percent of funds needed [AFP]
The United Nations' refugee agency warned on Tuesday that millions of people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and some neighbouring countries.

Conflicts, drought and failed harvests have exacerbated food insecurity and acute malnutrition in areas where around 20 million people live, UNHCR said. 
In the Horn of Africa, a crisis potentially worse than the drought of 2011 that claimed 260,000 lives "is fast becoming an inevitability," UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.  

A warning about the desperate shortage of food in the East African region, as well as in Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen had already been issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross late in February. At the time, the humanitarian agency said that the rest of the world had three to four months to avert a disaster. 

In South Sudan alone, around one million people are already "on the brink of famine," according to Edwards.

The situation in Somalia is also "vey, very dire," the ICRC's coordinator for the country, David Hermann, said. Increased displacement due to the crisis is also impacting neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

In Yemen, the Middle East's most impoverished nation, roughly 60 percent of the country's population is going hungry amid continued conflict.

German foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Mauer are set to meet on Wednesday and are expected to launch a fresh humanitarian appeal Wednesday.

So far, UNCHR's work in helping those affected has been impeded by a significant shortfall in funding, despite the UN agency stepping up operations. 

Its efforts in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen have only received between 3 to 11 percent of what is needed, Edwards said.

According to Jens Laerke of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN has appealed for $4.4 billion for the four afflicted countries, but has received less than $984 million.