The UN has allocated $100 million to fight hunger in Africa and the Middle East as the fallout from war in Ukraine threatens to push millions even closer to starvation.
The contribution from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), announced on Thursday, will go to relief projects in six African countries and Yemen.
The money will allow UN agencies and their partners to provide essential support, including food, cash, nutritional aid, medical services, shelter and clean water.
Projects will also be tailored to support women and girls, who face additional risks due to the crisis.
“Hundreds of thousands of children go to sleep hungry every night while their parents worry about how to feed them. A war on the other side of the world makes their prospects even worse. This allowance will save lives,” said Martin Griffiths, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator.
Make a dire situation worse
CERF funding will support humanitarian operations, with $30 million for the Horn of Africa, split between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Another $20 million will go to Yemen, while Sudan will also receive the same amount. South Sudan will receive $15 million, as will Nigeria.
Food insecurity in these countries is mainly due to armed conflict, drought and economic turmoil, and the conflict in Ukraine is further aggravating a dire situation.
The war began on February 24 and disrupted food and energy markets, leading to soaring food and fuel prices.
Earlier this month, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that world food prices were at “a new all-time high”, reaching levels not seen since 1990.
Millions of people suffering from hunger
Humanitarians measure levels of food insecurity using a five-point scale called the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC).
Phase 5 is a situation in which “starvation, death, misery and extremely critical levels of acute malnutrition are evident”. Famine is declared when hunger and mortality rates exceed certain thresholds.
Some 161,000 people in Yemen are expected to face the catastrophic level of Phase 5 by the middle of the year, according to the United Nations office for humanitarian affairs, OCHA.
In South Sudan, 55,000 people could already experience it, while another 81,000 in Somalia could face the same if rains fail, prices continue to rise and aid is not forthcoming. not increased.
A global emergency
Meanwhile, around 4.5 million people across Sudan, Nigeria and Kenya are already or will soon be facing emergency levels of hunger – IPC Phase 4. CERF funding will also strengthen the response in Ethiopia, in the midst of its worst drought in recent history.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned this week that the conflict in Ukraine has triggered a “global and systemic emergency” in the food, energy and financial sectors.
The crisis threatens to plunge up to 1.7 billion people in the world, more than a fifth of the planet, into poverty, destitution and hunger.
Guterres was speaking at the launch of a new UN report that outlines measures to limit impacts, such as increased aid and fertilizer supplies, debt relief and the release of strategic food and fuel reserves.
CERF was established in 2005 to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance whenever crises arise.
The fund brings together contributions from a range of donors, with more than 130 UN member states, observers, others, including individuals, providing more than $8 billion over the years.
Over the past six months, CERF has allocated more than $170 million to address rising food insecurity in several countries, including those that will receive the new funding.