UN chief: Step up action to end conflicts driving "hunger crisis"

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Young girls lining up at a feeding centre in Mogadishu, Somalia, on March 9, 2017. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

The international community must do more to end conflict to stave off famine in four countries, the UN Secretary-General said on Thursday.

António Guterres was speaking in New York at a meeting held on the margins of the annual debate in the UN General Assembly.

Dianne Penn reports.

The meeting comes roughly seven months after the UN chief alerted the world to looming famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria, affecting around 20 million people.

He said donors and partners have stepped up: A US$4.9 billion humanitarian appeal is around 60 per funded, and aid workers are providing life-saving support to nearly 13 million people each month.

But Mr Guterres added that while coordinated international action has kept famine at bay, suffering continues.

He urged world leaders to do more to end conflict, the most important factor behind what he called "these four hunger crises."

"We must do better, and we have no time to lose. Humanitarian aid is saving lives. But a long-term solution depends on ending and preventing conflict.  I urge you all to do whatever you can to influence the parties to the conflicts to abide by international law, to protect civilians and to allow humanitarians safe access to deliver emergency food, nutritional aid, and other urgent relief to those in need."

The Secretary-General also appealed to warring parties to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, thus sparing civilians "the agony and lifelong effects of hunger and famine."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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