Oxfam launches urgent appeal for over 38 million people facing starvation and famine

Oxfam launches urgent appeal for over 38 million people facing starvation and famine

  • Agency warns that hunger and deaths will rise if aid does not reach countries in need, including South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia
  • Famine likely to be declared in Yemen and Somalia in the coming months
  • In East Africa, 19 million people are on the brink of starvation due to conflict and drought

Wednesday 13 March 2017

Oxfam Ireland has launched an urgent public appeal in response to unprecedented levels of hunger and famine affecting more than 38 million people across six countries – more people than six times the entire population of the island of Ireland.

The agency has asked the public to help it raise €/£500,000 in the coming weeks so it can reach more people quickly in communities in South Sudan, Yemen, north-east Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Oxfam Ireland warned that hunger, starvation and deaths will increase exponentially without urgent action.
The UN announced today that levels of hunger have increased by 20% in Yemen since June 2016 and there are now over 17 million people in the country who are dangerously hungry - a massive humanitarian response is required to avert famine.
Famine has already been declared in South Sudan where 4.9 million people face starvation and is likely to be declared in Somalia in the coming months where almost three million are in desperate need of food. In north-east Nigeria at least 4.4 million people are in immediate of humanitarian assistance. 
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive said: “We are witnessing levels of hunger and famine right now that have not been seen for decades. War-ravaged South Sudan was the first country in the world to declare famine since 2011 but beyond its borders tens of millions of children, women and men are facing starvation and death in East Africa, Nigeria and Yemen.
“In East Africa alone drought and conflict has left 19 million people on the brink of starvation, in desperate need of food, water and medical treatment – many have already died. Behind that incomprehensible number are real people. People like Fadumo, a mother and farmer from the Somali region in Ethiopia who lost three of her children, triplets, to malnutrition when they were less than one month old. Meanwhile drought claimed the majority of her livestock and source of income, leaving her destitute.”
Oxfam is supporting communities facing famine and hunger by distributing emergency food supplies and cash or cash vouchers, and providing clean water and sanitation. Oxfam is already helping over one million people in Yemen, more than 600,000 in South Sudan, over 300,000 in Nigeria, 255,000 people in the Southern Somali region of Ethiopia and plans to begin a response to the drought in Somalia.
Mr Clarken continued: “When famine is declared it suggests the international community has failed to organise and act in time. We must act now before levels of hunger rise and people exhaust their last efforts to feed their families.
“The international community must respond immediately and collectively to fulfil the UN’s urgent appeal for $4.4 billion – and commit to responding earlier to warning signs so that this never happens again. Meanwhile, aid agencies must be given more and better access to all people in need to prevent further suffering and needless loss of life.
“We’re also calling on people across the island of Ireland to help us raise vital funds quickly so that we can ramp up our response to this devastating food crisis. We are already on the ground in countries in East Africa and in Nigeria and Yemen but what concerns us now is the people we have yet to reach.”
People can support Oxfam Ireland Hunger Crisis Appeal at: https://www.oxfamireland.org/hunger

CONTACT: Oxfam spokespeople, including from East Africa, Nigeria and Yemen, are available for interview. To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact:

Alice Dawson on 083 198 1869 / alice.dawson@oxfamireland.org

Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

Notes to the Editor:


SOUTH SUDAN 4.9 million people between “crisis” levels of hunger and famine

YEMEN 7-10m between “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger

SOMALIA Nearly 3m between “crisis” and “emergency” levels of hunger

NIGERIA At least 4.4m in northeast between “crisis” levels of hunger and famine


· Providing water and sanitation to prevent cholera and diarrhoea

· Working to position supplies ahead of the rainy season which makes it even more difficult for people to access aid

· Providing travel vouchers for people to take canoes to reach food distributions

· Providing emergency food distributions and working with people to produce their own food and other income

· Helping people to claim their rights, flee violence, find safety and access aid

· So far we have helped over 600,000 people across the country and almost 40,000 of the most vulnerable in Panyijar County, Unity State, to where many people have fled from famine-hit areas


· Providing people with emergency food support, cash and vouchers

· Providing clean water and better sanitation, including showers and toilets

· Distributing food and cooking equipment, and kits to help people avoid disease

· We have helped some 300,000 in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states since May 2014. We aim to help up to 500,000 this year


· We have reached more than a million people since July 2015 with clean water, hygiene kits and other essentials

· Given cash to more 205,000 people so families can buy food or livestock

· 35,000 have taken part in our cash-for-work programs


· Launching a humanitarian response in Somaliland, with aim of reaching at least 10,000 people with clean water, sanitation and cash assistance for food

· As the drought worsens in the next few months, we hope to secure enough funding to expand our response across the region


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