A cri­sis you’ve never heard of

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.”

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