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It’s the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis” since 1945, warns the United Nations

Translated Saturday 1 April 2017, by Emma Jackson

The United Nations has warned that the world is confronted by “the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second World War”, with 20 million people at risk of malnutrition and famine in three African countries, and Yemen.

Stephen O’Brien, the Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and the co-ordinator of the United Nations’ emergency services, made a declaration on Friday 10th March before the Security Council, where he cited Somalia, Southern Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen; all prey to armed conflicts. The Secretary General, who visited Yemen, Southern Sudan and Somalia at the beginning of the month, has issued an appeal for urgent action, demanding 4.4 billion dollars from the international community by July to “avoid a catastrophe”. READ THE DECLARATION HERE: http://www.humanite.fr/sites/default/files/erc_usg_stephen_obrien_statement_to_the_secco_on_missions_to_yemen_south_sudan_somalia_and_kenya_and_update_on_oslo.pdf

The United Nations issues a warning: the world faces its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second World War, with more than 20 million people in four countries confronted with hunger and famine", he declared. "Otherwise, one can predict that many people will starve, lose their means of support and see the political achievements that they won over the past few years reversed severely,” added Mr.Brien. "Without the collective efforts, coordinated to the global scale, the people will starve to death. Many others will suffer and die of disease. Children’s development will be delayed, and their education will be neglected. Livelihoods, futures and hopes will be lost,” warned the Secretary General.

Yemen, he emphasised, is right now suffering “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. Two thirds of its population, 18.8 million people, need aid and more than million "don’t know where their next meal is coming from", he said, due to an increased displacement of people, uprooted by the conflicts between government forces and Houthistes. 

According to the UN, the conflict has already resulted in more than 7,400 fatalities and 40,000 wounded since March 2015.

Recent deals in the last few months between the warring parties allowed a food aid route to 4.9 million people. "Nevertheless, all the conflicting parties arbitrarily refused a durable access to humanitarians and use aid to their political ends”, declared Mr. O’Brien. He estimated that 2.1 billion dollars were needed to help 12 million people and announced that a ministerial level conference would take place to raise the funds. This conference would take place on the 25th April in Geneva in the presence of Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.

In Southern Sudan, Mr. O Brien said to have found the situation "worse than ever", due to the civil war which has ravaged the country since December 2013. He accused the conflicting parties of being responsible for the famine. More than 7.5 million people need aid, 1.4 million more than last year, in this country which had 3.4 million displaced people. In Somalia, more than half the population – 6.2 million people – need aid and protection, of which 2.9 million are threatened by famine. Nearly one million children under five years old will suffer this year from grave malnutrition, he said, in this country which has been plunged into chaos and violence by clan militia activity, criminal gangs and the insurrection of Shebab Islamists, for nearly three decades.

“What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was shocking – women and children walking for weeks in search of food and water". "They have lost their livestock, their sources of drinking water have dried up and there is not enough left to live on," he noted, adding that a large movement of the population to the urban centres was taking place. Finally, in the northeast of Nigeria - setting of the Boko Haram Islamists insurrection in 2009, hit by the climate change and victim of poor government - more than 10 million people need humanitarian aid, of which 7.1 million people are "confronted with severe food insecurity";, said Mr. O;Brien. 

During the Oslo Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin last month, it was announced that 672 million dollars were contributed, far below the appeal, which was fixed at 1.5 billion dollars.

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