Global action can avert famine threat, UN relief chief tells Security Council

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Stephen O’Brien, speaks to a woman at the Dayniile IDP camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 6, 2017, about the various challenges facing the community as a result of a drought in the country. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

Without major international action, 20 million people in four countries are at risk of starving to death, the UN's top humanitarian official told the Security Council on Friday.

Stephen O'Brien was briefing ambassadors on the situation in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-east Nigeria, which either are facing famine or on the brink of it.

He recently travelled to some of the affected areas.

Dianne Penn reports.

The Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator said the UN is at a critical point in its history.

The global body is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since its creation more than 70 years ago.

He warned ambassadors that without collective international action "people will simply starve to death."

 "The situation for people in each country is dire and without a major international response, the situation will get worse. All four countries have one thing in common: conflict. This means that we—you— have the possibility to prevent and end further misery and suffering. The UN and its partners are ready to scale up but we need the access and the funds to do more. It is all preventable.  It is possible to avert this crisis, to avert these famines, to avert these looming human catastrophes.”

Mr O'Brien also sounded the alarm over drought in northern Kenya, which is causing some 2.7 million people to go hungry.

That number could rise to four million by April, he added.

Dianne Penn, United Nations   

Duration: 1’00″

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