UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, alerted that there is a risk of famine and food insecurity widely in four countries influenced by the dispute which are Congo, Yemen, northeast Nigeria, and South Sudan, and millions of people are in danger.
In an annotation to Security Council members obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, Guterres reported according to the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises and recent food security analyses that the four countries rank among the largest food crises in the world, saying that funding to help is very low. He also said: Action is needed now. Having endured years of armed conflict and related violence, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, northeast Nigeria and South Sudan are again facing the specter of heightened food insecurity and potentially famine.
The UN chief also declared that the main indicators are similarly deteriorating in certain other countries affected by the conflict such as Somalia, Burkina Faso, and Afghanistan, and he added: The situation varies from country to country, but civilians are being killed, injured and displaced; livelihoods are destroyed; and availability of and access to food disrupted, amid growing fragility. At the same time, humanitarian operations are attacked, delayed or obstructed from delivering life-saving assistance.
Guterres reported that food insecurity in the countries affected by the conflict is now further exacerbated by natural disasters, economic shocks and public health crises, all compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UN humanitarian Chief, Mark Lowcock, declared in an interview with AP that the economic consequences from the pandemic such as lockdowns, border closures and restrictions on movement have all a big effect on food security and agricultural productivity, adding that the extremists have taken the opportunity to make hay out of all this.
Lowcock also said that everybody is very preoccupied by COVID and the virus, but it is not the virus that’s creating most of the carnage. It is other things, and we need to focus on the things that will really cause the biggest loss of life. He added that many of these are consequences of COVID-19, the economic contraction, the declining availability of basic public services, the insecurity into which extremist groups are occupying themselves,
He said that many of effort has gone into things like providing personal protective equipment, public information campaigns on the virus, water and sanitation campaigns, all of which are good things. But if you do those at the expense of basic humanitarian needs in these badly affected places, what you end up with is not a reduction in loss of life but an increase in loss of life.
UN humanitarian Chief reported that having four countries meet the requirement in a 2018 Security Council resolution to report to the council when the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity occurs is highly significant.
According to a note of the secretary-general, the increased violence in eastern Congo is again driving disastrous levels of food insecurity and hunger, while the latest analysis indicates that over 21 million people are in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.
UN Secretary-General said that with only 22 percent of the UN humanitarian call currently funded, core programs will need to be reduced or suspended. He also said that in Yemen, where the international community worked to stop famine two years ago, the risk is slowly returning, adding that the increasing dispute and economic deterioration led the poorest nation of the Arab world to the border of famine two years ago, and similar conditions and deteriorating main indicators are appearing today.
Guterres declared that a recent study showed that 3.2 million people in the areas controlled by the government are now highly food insecure, and the prices of food are 140 percent higher than averages before the dispute began in 2015. He also added: But with only 24 percent of humanitarian requirements funded in 2020, agencies are now forced to reduce or close core programs.
The UN chief said that in northeast Nigeria’s Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, alarming levels of food insecurity and hunger have arisen largely as a result of the actions of extremists affiliated with armed groups.
Moreover, Guterres reported that estimates suggest more than 10 million people in the three states, about 80 percent of the population need humanitarian assistance and protection, about 50 percent rise since last year and the highest recorded since humanitarian operations began. While, the UN call is only 33 percent funded, this is its lowest level. He also said that in South Sudan’s Jonglei and Greater Pibor administrative area, the situation deteriorated rapidly in the first half of 2020, because of the escalating violence and insecurity.
Furthermore, he indicated that fighting has been accompanied by widespread attacks on agricultural and pastoral land and the looting of livestock and food, leaving more than 1.4 million people in the area facing a crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity. In addition, at least 350,000 children suffer from severe or moderate acute malnutrition.
In the same context, Guterres declared that the latest expectations from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network are flagging worsening catastrophe conditions … in areas affected by the violence.
Otherwise, the UN humanitarian chief reported that there’s a paradox since overall UN humanitarian funding is before of 2019, which was a record year. He also said: But the money is not following the greatest need. Some of our appeals are relatively well funded, but some of the places where the problems are worst are poorly funded – Nigeria, Yemen, Congo, they’re all in that category.