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UN releases $100m to Nigeria, others to fight famine

The United Nations on Tuesday released $100 million in emergency funds to combat famine in seven countries at risk of a hunger epidemic, caused by conflict, economic decline, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, said $80 million would be split between Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. A $20 million had been set aside for Ethiopia, where droughts aggravate an existing unfortunate situation.

Mr. Lowcock said in a statement, “The prospect of a return to a world in which famines are commonplace would be heart wrenching and obscene in a world where there is more than enough food for everyone.”

Read also: Marine, coastal environment in Africa facing major pollution problem —UNEP

“Famines result in agonising and humiliating deaths. They fuel conflict and war. They trigger mass displacement. Their impact on a country is devastating and long lasting. No one should view a slide into famine as an inevitable side effect of this pandemic. If it happens it is because the world has allowed it to happen.”

OCHA said in a statement, “Releasing money from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was the quickest and most efficient way to support famine-prevention, with a real risk of famine in parts of Burkina Faso, North-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.”

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said the world is going through turbulent times.

“That’s why we need to sharpen our focus and ramp up our efforts to avoid the icebergs – icebergs such as famine, starvation, destabilisation and migration,” Mr. Beasley wrote in a tweet.

In an op-ed published online by the London-based Times newspaper on Tuesday, Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Beasley wrote that humankind’s greatest success had been to consign famine to history.

“But the impacts of the pandemic and associated lockdowns – falling incomes, rising food prices – were a match on tinder. Leave this fire to take hold and millions of children will die,” they wrote.

“When the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to WFP, they said they wanted to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from hunger or face the threat of it.

“We couldn’t agree more. When more than a quarter of a billion people teeter on a cliff edge, it’s no time to look away, much less walk away.”

Environnews

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