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20 million at risk of famine in 4 conflict-ridden countries, UN warns

The United Nations has warned that a food crisis looms in four different countries, with more than 20 million people at the risk of famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.

The UN Security Council said in a declaration on Wednesday that the threat was directly linked to the armed conflicts in the afflicted areas.

“The Security Council notes the devastating impact on civilians of ongoing armed conflict and violence,” the 15-member UN body said.

The council also expressed “deep concern” that the ongoing conflicts and violence “hinder an effective humanitarian response in the short, medium and long term, and are therefore a major cause of famine in the situations above.”

A displaced Somali child sits on May 24, 2017 at a makeshift camp in Garasbaley area on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu. (Photo by AFP)

It was the first time that the UN formally linked famine with conflicts in the region.

“The Security Council underlines the obligations of all parties to armed conflict to respect and protect civilians,” said the council, underlining the need to “take steps that would enable a more effective humanitarian response.”

Newly arrived Somalis, displaced by drought, receive food distributions at makeshift camps in Tabelaha area on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, March 30, 2017. (Photo by AP)

The council also called on UN members to fulfill their promises of aid to help tackle the growing threat of famine, saying additional resources and funding are needed “to pull people back from the brink of famine.”

According to Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, only $2.5 billion of a total of $4.9 billion urgently needed have so far been paid up by donors to tackle the crisis.

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