Armed conflicts are having devastating humanitarian consequences, said Guterres, calling climate change a “key enhancer” of the humanitarian problem.
Thursday February 23, 2017
By Rodrigo Campos
Women carry jerry cans of water from shallow wells dug from the sand along the Shabelle River bed, which is dry due to drought in Somalia's Shabelle region, March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo
Citing armed conflicts and climate change as part of the reasons for the food emergency, Guterres led a call for $5.6 billion in funding for humanitarian operations in the four countries this year, of which $4.4 billion are needed by the end of next month "to avert a catastrophe."
"Despite some generous pledges, just $90 million has actually been received so far," said Guterres, about two cents for every dollar needed.
"We are in the beginning of the year but these numbers are very worrying."
Last week, the U.N. World Food Programme's chief economist told Reuters more than 20 million people in the four countries were at risk of dying from starvation within six months.
U.N. chief Guterres said Wednesday women and girls are disproportionately affected by the crisis and nearly half a million children are suffering severe acute malnutrition.
"Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan," Guterres said. "Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are facing a tragedy."
Yemen, where more than 10,000 people have died as part of a two-year-long conflict, is facing the largest food insecurity emergency in the world, Guterres said, with an estimated 7.3 million people needing immediate help.
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior U.N official said more than seven million people face starvation in Nigeria's insurgency-hit northeastern region and around Lake Chad.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by James Dalgleish)