Famine: UN Sounds The Alarm
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council on Thursday that without “immediate action” “millions of people” risk “starvation and death” around the world.
“Climatic shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic are fueling” the risk, he stressed during a Council meeting on the link between hunger and security, organized by the United States, specifying that in some thirty countries, “more than 30 million people are close to being declared in a situation of famine”.
“My message is simple: if you don’t feed people, you feed conflicts,” he insisted, denouncing man’s responsibility in creating famines.
“Famine and hunger are no longer a question of lack of food. They are now largely man-made – and I use the term on purpose, ”he said. According to him, “in the 21st century, there is no need to have famines”.
After recounting witnessing the death of a two-year-old girl from starvation in Uganda in 1993, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield also stressed that there was “no reason to not providing resources to people who urgently need them ”.
“In today’s world, famine is caused by man. And if it is caused by us, it means that we also have to stop it, ”she said.
Oxfam International Director Gabriela Bucher stressed on behalf of her NGO that “people in these regions are not starving. They are hungry ”to death.
“It does not matter to the hungry whether they are starved by deliberate action or by the ruthless negligence of the parties to the conflict or the international community,” she argued.
The UN chief recalled that “at the end of 2020, more than 88 million people were suffering from acute hunger due to conflict and instability – a 20% increase in one year”.
“Projections for 2021 indicate a continuation of this frightening trend,” he warned, indicating that they “show that hunger crises are intensifying and spreading in the Sahel and the Horn of the United States. ‘Africa, and are accelerating in South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan ”.
“To avert disaster for some 34 million women, men, girls and boys,” the UN and its agencies have called for “urgent mobilization” to provide “5.5 billion dollars in additional resources ”, also said Antonio Guterres.
For Gabriela Bucher, the responsibility of States does not stop with donations of money. She denounced “an international community whose most powerful states too often cause famine with an abundant supply of arms” in various countries.
Citing concrete examples in Tigray (Ethiopia), Yemen and the Central African Republic, she asked the UN Security Council in particular to “clearly commit to act”, to “ensure humanitarian access” everywhere and to do bear “significant responsibility” for those who commit “famine crimes”.
For Linda Thomas-Greenfield, “we can save lives if we know where to go and if we put the money into it. But if we don’t have the data, we cannot provide this vital assistance. ”
According to her, the Security Council “has the unique ability to demand and secure timely reports, data and actions”. In this regard, she asked the head of the UN for two reports per year on this subject, in order to better prevent famines in the world.
Antonio Guterres announced the creation at UN Headquarters in New York of a “High Level Task Force on Famine Prevention”, to which representatives of the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Organization will contribute. Food and Agriculture United Nations (FAO).