As 30 million face famine, G7 leaders must pay up and push for peace

As 30 million face famine, G7 leaders must pay up and push for peace

G7 leaders meeting in Taormina, Sicily tomorrow (Friday 26 May) should show leadership in fighting famine and immediately fund their fair share of the UN’s urgent appeal for $6.3 billion for those suffering in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, urged Oxfam.

Without an immediate and far-reaching response, this crisis will spiral out of control and more lives will be lost.

To date, no G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four countries – if they did, they would raise almost half ($2.9 billion) of the total required, Oxfam estimates.

Deadly famine is already affecting 100,000 people in parts of South Sudan and threatens to extend to Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. Widespread famine across all four countries is not yet inevitable, but G7 leaders need to respond immediately. 

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Political failure has led to this crisis and now political leadership is needed to resolve it. The world’s most powerful leaders must act now to prevent a catastrophe happening on their watch. A massive injection of aid is urgently required, backed by a concerted diplomatic push to bring an end to the long-standing conflicts that are driving this hunger crisis.

“Currently the UN appeal for people facing famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen is only 30 percent funded overall. It is hugely regrettable that none of the G7 nations has provided its fair share of funding to all four countries at risk of famine while thousands of people are already dying from disease and extreme hunger.

“While we welcome the Irish Government’s commitments to respond to this crisis, we urge them to work with G7 leaders and other international donors to ensure that the substantial funding needs are immediately met, including by increased assistance from Ireland. The UK is doing more than most having given its fair share of aid to three out of four affected countries - South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, but needs to deliver on its promises to provide more help to people at risk of starvation in Nigeria.

“As Ireland moves towards the 2020 UN Security Council election, our leaders should leverage Ireland’s influence at EU and UN level to stop countries being arms brokers but encourage them to become peace brokers. Conflict has driven millions of people from their homes, disrupting their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Sieges and shelling and violence is preventing aid agencies like Oxfam from reaching people in desperate need of food and water. This is unacceptable and is leaving people to suffer and die.”

In 2015, the G7 committed to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition, yet 30 million people across the four countries are now experiencing severe hunger - 10 million of whom are facing emergency and famine conditions. Famine and hunger are the glaring symptoms of larger challenges that include conflict and migration.  

In addition to funding the UN appeal, G7 leaders should press for immediate ceasefires and inclusive peace processes, as well as for safe access to places where aid agencies are having trouble reaching people in need.

In Yemen, countries including G7 members continue to supply weapons, munitions, military equipment, technology, or logistical and financial support for military action that is in contravention of the rules of war. In South Sudan, three years of conflict have displaced more than 3.5 million people – including 2 million children. Somalia also remains an active conflict where access is limited by Al Shabaab, as well as other parties involved in the conflict. Nigeria’s conflict has spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon forcing 2.6 million people to flee and leaving nearly 11 million people in need of emergency aid. 

When G7 leaders have chosen a symbolic place to meet in Sicily – Europe’s coast, where thousands of people have died trying to reach safety and security – it is reprehensible that they are set to overlook the suffering of refugees and migrants on their doorstep, and ignore the challenge of migration and forced displacement. Rich countries should lean into this challenge, exercise positive global leadership and compassion, and agree to concrete steps that protect the dignity and rights of people on the move.


NB: Oxfam is attending the G7 summit with spokespeople available for interview on the hunger crisis in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen as well as on migration and inequality.

Oxfam can also offer journalists the opportunity to visit some of our programmes supporting refugees and migrants in Catania, Sicily.

For more information, contact:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

Notes to Editors 

1.     The Group of Seven (G7) is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

2.     Download Oxfam’s latest policy report on what governments need to do to avert the threat of global famine:

3.     The UN ‘four famines’ appeal was originally launched for a total of $5.6 billion  and was later revised up to $6.3 billon after the Somalia response plan was updated in earlier this month

4.     There has been a rise of 40 percent in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity over the last two years according to FEWSNET:

5.     Oxfam’s fair share analysis: Oxfam calculates its fair share analysis by comparing data from the UN’s Financial Tracking System (FTS) and information received from G7 members with their national income. No G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four nations facing famine. (The FTS website may not have been updated with recent pledges.)

According to UN figures, as of May 18, only 30 percent of the $6.3 billion needed has been received. Country by country, this means that Nigeria is only 21 percent funded; Somalia, 33 percent; South Sudan, 42 percent; and Yemen, 21 percent.

G7 leaders must commit to fund their fair share for each country, while pressing other donors to do their part, in order to prevent more people from dying of hunger. These contributions alone would mean $492 million for Nigeria, $703 million for Somalia, $764 million for South Sudan, and $964 million for Yemen.

G7 must also commit to increase aid for longer term solutions that build resilience and improve food security and nutrition, in order to prevent further crises from escalating into disasters. 

Only one G7 leader (UK) has provided its fair share for Yemen, two (UK and Canada) for South Sudan, two (UK and Germany) for Somalia and two (Canada and Germany) for Nigeria. 

The United States Congress commitment of $990m to address famine in the four countries is welcomed, but this must be urgently translated into aid on the ground if the impact of famines is to be reduced. 

View or download Oxfam’s fair share analysis here:

6.     About 30 million people are are experiencing alarming levels of hunger in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen - 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. (10 million people are at IPC4 and 5, and a further 20 million people are at IPC3.)

• South Sudan: 4.9 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-5, including 100,000 already in famine) 

• Yemen: 17 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-4) 

• Somalia: 3.2 million people dangerously hungry in Somalia (IPC Phases 3-4) 

• Nigeria: 4.7 million people dangerously hungry in northeast Nigeria (IPC Phases 3-5)

7.     Oxfam is responding directly and with local organisations across the affected countries delivering food and other essential aid including cash so that people can buy from local markets. It is striving to ensure people have clean water to be used for drinking, cooking, washing and sanitation and to fight waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. We are also helping vulnerable communities, focusing especially on women, to stay safe and access aid in these unstable circumstances. 


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