About 24 million people could starve across South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia as a result of drought or conflict. In South Sudan, conflict has driven millions from their homes into camps or across the border into Ethiopia.
According to UNICEF, ‘Children are paying a disproportionate price as famine looms across Somalia, South Sudan, north-east Nigeria and Yemen. Nearly 1.4 million children face imminent risk of death, and more than five million children face malnourishment this year.”
A malnourished child Sacdiyo Mohamed, 9 months old, is treated at the Banadir Hospital after her mother Halima Hassan Mohamed fled the drought in southern Somalia and travelled by car to the capital Mogadishu, in Somalia five months ago.
A deadly combination of conflict, recurring severe drought and high food prices are at the root of the crisis. Rains have failed for a third consecutive season, wilting crops and entrenching a long drought. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, cereal prices are now at near-record levels in most markets,while dry pastures and water shortages have also left thousands of animals dead or emaciated.
‘In South Sudan, more than 1.1 million children are estimated to be facing acute malnourishment, with almost 276,000 severely malnourished at imminent risk of death. In Somalia, the projected number ofchildren who are or will be acutely malnourished is 1.4 and in Yemen, about 1.8 million children are threatened with acute malnutrition,’ according to the report.
Experts forecast a rise in the number of people facing crisis, emergency and famine conditions from 4.7 million to 5.2 million in northeast Nigeria. This includes 50,000 people likely to be affected by ‘famine-like’ conditions, according to the latest United Nations Global Early Warning report.
A rise in the hunger crisis by late August is forecasted as the lean season before harvest takes its toll, driving up the number of people in need of food aid by at least half a million to 5.2 million, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council