Today, Islamic Relief UK launches an emergency appeal as the list of countries on the brink of famine rises. The charity warns that countries in North Africa, Asia and the Middle East will succumb to starvation, disease, malnutrition and death if immediate action is not taken to combat global hunger.
According to figures shared by the United Nations, world hunger and malnutrition levels soared last year. After remaining unchanged for five years, the effects of the pandemic have seen the number of undernourished people rise to 768 million (average), up 118 million compared to 2019.
Having conducted a global needs assessment, Islamic Relief UK has decided to launch an appeal to raise £100,000 -- for an initial two week period -- with a focus on vulnerable communities in Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Famine is defined as an inability to access food supplies that can adequately feed a region or country. It is the most serious type of food insecurity in both severity and scale and is judged on whether a significant proportion of a region or countries deaths are due to a lack of food or a combination of disease and lack of food.
In Afghanistan, droughts have left at least 13 million people facing a food crisis and up to 9.5 million potentially experiencing food insecurity. The drought is worsening an already dire situation where political insecurity, COVID-19 and extreme conflict has left millions in need of humanitarian assistance.
In northern Ethiopia, 400,000 people are already living in severe conditions. After nearly eight months of fighting, the conflict has put more than 5.2 million in need of emergency food assistance to 'avoid starvation'; over 2 million people have been displaced and tens of thousands have fled to neighbouring Sudan.
South Sudan is facing one of the worst food security and nutrition crises globally, as an estimated 60% of the population (7.2 million) are expected to be facing high levels of acute food insecurity, with areas such as Northern Bahr el Ghazal being hit the hardest. An estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition -- approximately 313,000 of these children are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition and face an increased risk of fatality.
In Yemen, 16.2 million people are food insecure and over 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die without urgent intervention. As the conflict worsens and the economy declines, over 5 million people in Yemen are on the brink of food insecurity leaving families struggling to find enough food to get through the day. Yemen has one of the highest child and women malnutrition rates in the world as the nutrition situation continues to worsen and rates of disease heighten.
Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK said:
"Famine does not creep up on a country by surprise. It can take months or years to establish itself. Due to international disputes, internal politics, devastating conflict and a pandemic that has paralysed systems worldwide, countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia and South Sudan have sadly been pushed closer to famine.
"The severe malnutrition we are seeing in these countries demands immediate humanitarian intervention to preserve communities, cultures and people being affected by this cross-continental threat.
*"Islamic Relief has a strong presence in these countries and has responded to countless disasters across the globe since 1984 -- and we are determined to do as much as we can to alleviate the looming threat of food insecurity before it's too late. *
Notes to Editor
Spokespeople are available -- for any questions or to request an interview with one of our spokespeople, please contact:
Armani Ur-Rub -- Senoir Media Officer
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About Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief is a faith-inspired, development and humanitarian agency working to transform and save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in over 40 countries. Islamic Relief assists people according to need and does not discriminate in any way.
Set up in Birmingham in 1984 by a group of volunteers, we have assisted over 117 million people all over the world. We're saving lives and empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty in over 37 countries -- from Bangladesh to Bosnia, Pakistan to Palestine, Kenya to Kosovo. Islamic Relief is on the ground in some of the world's most dangerous and difficult places -- including Syria and Yemen -- strengthening the most marginalised communities to withstand conflict and natural disasters and to build a brighter future. We also support vulnerable people in the UK in partnership with local charities and organisations.