Hundreds of NGOS call on governments to increase aid to prevent global hunger crisis

Hundreds of NGOS call on governments to increase aid to prevent global hunger crisis

  • UN warning of “famines of biblical proportions” goes unheeded with only five percent of food security appeal funded

20 April 2021

Today, more than 200 NGOs published an open letter calling on all governments to urgently increase aid to prevent over 34 million people from being pushed to the brink of starvation this year. 

A year on since the UN warned of “famines of biblical proportions”, rich donors have funded just five percent of the UN’s $7.8 billion food security appeal for 2021, while globally, world food prices reached a seven-year high in February of this year.

At the end of 2020, the UN estimated that 270 million people were either at high risk of, or already facing, acute levels of hunger. While 174 million people in 58 countries have reached that level already and are at risk of dying from malnutrition or lack of food, and this figure is only likely to rise in coming months if nothing is done immediately.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “While both the Irish government and public have been consistently generous in their support of aid efforts, global funding is not keeping pace with the increasing need - even with extreme hunger crises looming for millions more people across the world.

"Conflict is the biggest driver of global hunger, which is also exacerbated by climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic."

From Yemen, to Afghanistan, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria, conflicts and violence are forcing millions to the brink of starvation, with many people living in conflict zones sharing horrifying stories of hunger and the impact on food supplies.

Fayda from Lahj governorate in Yemen says: “When humanitarian workers came to my hut, they thought I had food because smoke was coming from my kitchen. But I was not cooking food for my children – instead, I could only give them hot water and herbs, after which they went to sleep hungry.”

Nearly two out of every five families in Yemen buy food and medicines using debt, according to Oxfam research, which revealed that Yemeni families are trapped in a cycle of informal debt, living precariously and reliant on good will as they lurch from one month to the next.  

Amb. Ahmed Shehu, Regional Coordinator for the Civil Society Network of Lake Chad Basin said: “The situation here is really dire. Seventy percent of people in this region are farmers but they can’t access their land because of violence, so they can’t produce food. These farmers have been providing food for thousands for years – now they have become beggars themselves. Food production is lost, so jobs are lost, so income is lost, so people cannot buy the food. Then, we as aid workers cannot safely even get to people to help them.” 

Clarken Concluded: "Ireland, as a recently elected member of the UN Security Council, now has an important role in promoting respect of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in time of armed conflict.  

"At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic the UN Secretary General called for a global ceasefire to address the pandemic but too few leaders have sought to implement it.

“Together, we must now push global leaders to support durable and sustainable solutions to conflict, and open pathways for humanitarians to access communities in conflict zones to save lives.”

ENDS

Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

Notes to the Editor


QUOTES FROM NGO LETTER SIGNATORIES:

Oxfam International Executive Director, Gabriela Bucher said:  

“The richest countries are slashing their food aid even as millions of people go hungry; this is an extraordinary political failure. They must urgently reverse these decisions. And we must confront the fundamental drivers of starvation – global hunger is not about lack of food, but a lack of equality.”  

David Miliband, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee, said:  

“The worsening rate of global hunger is horrifying to witness. Every day we are seeing the human cost of hunger play out in the countries where we work. World leaders must act now to prevent unprecedented levels of suffering, through increased funding and diplomatic efforts to end conflict and improve humanitarian access.” 
 
CARE International Secretary General, Sofía Sprechmann Sineiro said:  

“Whether Yemen, Syria or the DRC, funding to respond to the hunger crisis is not materializing. Yet trillions are invested in rescue packages for corporates all over the world. Donors must step up. It is not a matter of affordability; it is a matter of political will. CARE’s evidence base tells us that for every dollar women earn, 80 cents go back into the family, compared with 30 cents of every dollar men earn. Gender inequality is a key predictor of the occurrence and recurrence of armed conflict. If we fail to grasp this simple fact, we will fail to prevent or effectively counter famine. 

Save the Children’s CEO, Inger Ashing said:  

"We have warned donors over and over again – their inaction is leading to death and despair among children, as we see in countries across the globe every single day. A pledging conference for Yemen in early March did not even raise half of the funds needed, and that country is at a tipping point. It’s painful, because governments have the money. That thousands of children will be dying of hunger and disease in 2021 is a political choice – unless governments radically choose to help save the lives of children.”  

The Danish Refugee Council Secretary General, Charlotte Slente said:  

“Among the growing number of refugees and displaced persons, lack of access to food severely worsens an already critical situation. DRC calls on all governments to act now to prevent global hunger from adding further destitution to the world’s most vulnerable groups of people.”

World Vision International President & CEO, Andrew Morley said:  

“Let me be direct: there is no place or excuse for famine in the 21st century. The fact we have reached this point shows there has been a clear and catastrophic moral failure by the international community. A generation of girls and boys needs us to bring hope, supporting and empowering them to reach their full potential. Children of the world are looking to us to act.” 

Interim CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide,Tufail Hussain, said: 

“Cutting aid in the middle of a pandemic is morally abhorrent and risks rolling back decades of development. Failure to act now will cast a shadow over generations to come, as malnutrition affects young children’s cognitive and physical development for the rest of their lives. The world must not wait for famine to be declared before helping people who are starving right now. We are calling for global solidarity to end hunger and stand with the world’s poorest people.”

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said:  

“We are witnessing a devastating global hunger crisis, which will hit girls and women the hardest. In countries like South Sudan, we are already hearing reports of hunger-related deaths and families going entire days without food. Others are making heartbreaking choices, marrying their daughters early or saving what little food they have for working members of the household. It is critical that world leaders step up and provide more funding for humanitarian assistance – otherwise, we risk millions of avoidable deaths.” 

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