Famine Threatens Millions Across Africa and the Middle East

from Médecins du Monde
Published on 23 Mar 2017 View Original

We are on the precipice of another humanitarian crisis. The famine that is raging in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen is threatening the lives of millions of people. The crisis is urgent, complex and vast. Without swift action, alarming food shortages in Ethiopia, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, and Niger, could also spiral into crisis.

Crop failures brought on by climate change, combined with conflicts that have forced entire villages from their land, have caused the onset of famine in four countries across Africa and the Middle East. An estimated 20 million people – including 1.4 million children – are already suffering from malnutrition, and if the global community fails to act, the ongoing food shortages and widespread poverty in these countries will cause unthinkable suffering and unnecessary deaths.

As a member organization of Consortium 12-12, a Belgian non-profit platform, Doctors of the World is working to distribute food and water, provide medical care, improve hygiene and strengthen the agricultural capabilities of these communities in three of the famine-affected countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.


Since 2014, the north eastern state of Borno in Nigeria has been struggling to contain the extremist group known as Boko Haram. Over 20,000 people have died as a result of the insurgency and 2.6 million have been displaced. The medical needs in Nigeria are immense: 30% of medical facilities have been destroyed in the conflict, severely debilitating the health infrastructure in the area.

DotW’s General Director of International Operations, Jean-Francois Corty reported that “Boko Haram have continuously attacked medical facilities, targeting and killing medical personnel. There is a constant shortage of drugs and equipment. 90% of the current health infrastructure does not know how to treat cases of malnutrition in children. This is a humanitarian crisis that is quickly becoming forgotten.”

Since 2016, we have operated two mobile clinics in Borno state. We provide primary medical care to displaced communities and malnutrition treatment to children and pregnant women. After observing the situation, Jean-Francois added, “The population needs clean water, food and shelter. The situation is alarming and access to food is at serious risk, because people can no longer fish or breed cattle”. Doctors of the World has sent 10 tons of equipment to the area, but far more aid is needed.


Somalia has been plagued by civil war for over 20 years, and 6.2 million people current live without food security. Doctors of the World has been working in the town of Bosaso in Northern Somalia in Puntland since 2011. There are currently 50,000 displaced people in Bosaso, including Somalis fleeing fighting in southern parts of the country and those fleeing fighting across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. We provide medicine, equipment, and technical support to eight public health centers, and focus on primary medical care, and maternal and child health.


The war in Yemen has claimed over 10,000 lives and left 3 million displaced since 2014. As a result, Yemen is currently facing the largest food emergency in the world and 65% of Yemenis currently do not have reliable access to food. The price of food spiked severely in September 2016, as the conflict in the country escalated. Around 7 million people in Yemen depend entirely on food assistance, with the rate of child malnutrition being one of the highest in the world. Doctors of the World began working in Yemen in 2015, focusing mainly on food security and child health. We now support 5 health centers and one maternity clinic in the governorates of Sana’a and Ibb. We also operate an emergency team, which provides assistance and emergency supplies to conflict areas

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