The UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien believes the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was established in 1945 with over 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine.
Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.”
He urged an immediate injection of funds for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid “to avert a catastrophe.”
“To be precise,” O’Brien said, “we need $4.4 billion by July.”
UN and food organisations define famine as when more than 30% of children under age 5 suffer from acute malnutrition and mortality rates are two or more deaths per 10 000 people every day, among other criteria.
“Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations,” O’Brien said. “Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.”
O’Brien said the largest humanitarian crisis is in Yemen where two-thirds of the population – 18.8 million people — need aid and more than seven million people are hungry and don’t know where their next meal will come from. “That is three million people more than in January,” he said.
The Arab world’s poorest nation is engulfed in conflict and O’Brien said more than 48 000 people fled fighting just in the past two months.
During his recent visit to Yemen, O’Brien said he met senior leaders of the government and the Shiite Houthi rebels who control the capital Sana’a, and all promised access for aid.