A crisis you’ve never heard of
More than 20 million people in four countries are at risk of starvation in the coming months, in what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. But the global response to the emergency has been lacking, both from governments and from private citizens. The U.N. reports that only 43 percent of the $6.27 billion needed to head off famine this year in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria had been raised.
More than half the populations of Somalia and South Sudan are in need of emergency food assistance, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Civil wars in those countries have combined with meager spring rains to drastically reduce food supplies. In Nigeria, some 5 million people are at risk in the northeastern provinces where the terrorist group Boko Haram is active.
The most harrowing reports come from Yemen, where the United Nations says a staggering 20 million people need humanitarian aid. In addition to millions who lack food, more than 330,000 people have been afflicted by a cholera epidemic since late April.
The United States has responded relatively generously to U.N. appeals, thanks largely to Congress, which inserted an extra $990 million in food aid for the four countries into this year’s budget.
“The crisis,” says Carolyn Miles, the chief executive of Save the Children, “is really reaching a peak.”