GPC briefing note: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are facing famine or a credible risk of famine - April 2017

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Cluster
Published on 30 Apr 2017

Key Messages

  • The four famines illustrate the deadly combination of on-going conflict, denial of freedom of movement, poor governance, drought and rising food prices

  • There is direct correlation between food scarcity and protection risks, particularly in situations of displacement

  • The enormity of the crisis is exposing individuals to heightened protection risks that are life threatening

  • Protection Clusters and sectors across all four operations are facing severe funding shortages and their capacity to respond to growing needs is overstretched

  • To curb the severity and spread of the food crisis consorted and coordinated efforts from all actors are needed

  • Facilitating access and scaling up humanitarian and protection assistance to the affected populations are urgently required K

More than 20 million people across four countries risk facing starvation and water shortages within six months. Wars in Yemen, north eastern Nigeria and South Sudan have devastated livelihoods and collapsed economies, with famine already declared a reality in parts of South Sudan due to continuing conflict since 2013. In Somalia, a drought and a long-standing conflict is devastating the agriculture sector, ruining the country’s rural and urban economy, and bringing the country to the brink of famine.

Conflict and violence in all four countries have impeded physical and economic access to food, particularly as a result of the disruption of livelihoods and markets, as well as distorted access to land and employment. These conditions have further fuelled internal displacement with a spill over effect to neighbouring countries. The number of South Sudanese seeking refuge in Ethiopia has risen significantly with a daily outflow of 660 people in March 2017, compared to 103 people in January 2017.

In 2017 demand for humanitarian aid has reached record high levels as several humanitarian crises continue to unfold. With the upsurge of crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, and complex operations in Ukraine, Burundi, DRC, CAR, Niger, and Mali, the humanitarian system is struggling to meet rising humanitarian needs. UNOCHA estimates that more than $5.6 billion is needed this year by humanitarian operations in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. As of March 22, the humanitarian response plans only received 13.9% of its required funding.

While assistance and protection continue to be the key goals of humanitarian action, the current alarming funding gap in meeting the needs of people in Somalia, South Sudan, north-eastern Nigeria, and Yemen raises fear that the situation will deteriorate fast if the international community does not act quickly.

Protection Clusters and sectors across all four operations are facing access constraints and severe funding shortages and their capacity to respond to growing needs is overstretched.
The gravity of the situation requires life saving interventions by all actors. Timely financial support to ensure essential relief efforts and ward-off looming famine; as well as collective, concerted and coordinated global efforts to save the crisis-affected people from facing the risk of hunger and starvation, are needed.