UN / O'BRIEN FAMINE ALERT

10-Mar-2017 00:03:02
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council today the world was facing the “largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations” with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine across four countries. He said without collective and coordinated global efforts, “people will simply starve to death.” UNIFEED
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STORY: UN / O’BRIEN FAMINE ALERT
TRT: 03:02
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 10 MARCH 2017, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
FILE - NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UNHQ exterior

10 MARCH 2017, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“All counterparts promised to facilitate sustained access and respect IHL (international humanitarian law). Yet all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid. Already, the humanitarian suffering that we see in Yemen today is caused by the parties and proxies and if they don't change their behaviour now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow.”
4. Med shot, delegates
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“The situation is worse than it has ever been. The famine in South Sudan is man-made. The parties to the conflict are parties to the famine, as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.”
6. Med shot, delegates
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“Aid workers have been killed. Humanitarian compounds and supplies have been attacked, looted, and occupied by armed actors. Recently, humanitarians had to leave one of the famine-affected counties because of fighting. Assurances by senior Government officials of unconditional access and no bureaucratic impediments now need to be turned into action on the ground.”
8. Wide shot, Security Council
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“To be clear, we can avert a famine in Somalia. We have a committed clear new President, a humanitarian and resilience track record, a detailed plan. We're ready despite incredible risk and danger; we have local and international leadership; we have a lot of access, now we need the international community, at the scale of you the donor agencies and nations, to invest in Somalia. Its life-saving, but we need those huge funds now.”
10. Wide shot, Security Council
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”
12. Med shot, delegates
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“All four countries have one thing in common: conflict. This means 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.”
14. Zoom out, Security Council
STORYLINE
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council today (10 Mar) the world was facing the “largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations” with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine across four countries. He said without collective and coordinated global efforts, “people will simply starve to death.”

Briefing the Council on his recent visit to Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia, O’Brien said the common factor in those countries, in addition to Northern Nigeria, was conflict. He stressed that the international community therefore had the “possibility to prevent and end further misery and suffering” in those countries at risk of famine.

O’Brien said all the war-affected people he met in Yemen told him three things, “they are hungry and sick and they need peace so that they can return home.” He stressed that hunger was on the rise in the country as two-thirds of the population was now in need of assistance and seven million Yemeni faced hunger, three million more than in January. O’Brien said leadership on both sides of the conflict promised to facilitate sustained humanitarian access, but “all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid.” He said the humanitarian suffering in Yemen was caused by “the parties and proxies and if they don't change their behaviour now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow.”

Turning to South Sudan, O’Brien described the situation in the country as “worse than it has ever been.” He said the famine already declared in Unity State was “man-made” stressing that “parties to the conflict are parties to the famine, as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.” In his visit to that region, O’Brien listened to women who fled fighting with their children “through waist-high swamps to receive food and medicine.” He said some of the women had experienced the most appalling acts of sexual violence which continued to be used as a weapon of war.

The humanitarian chief described what he saw and heard during his visit to Somalia as destressing. He said the current indicators mirrored the tragic picture of 2011 in the country when some 260,000 people died of famine. He stressed that famine could be averted but the donor agencies and nations needed to “invest in Somalia.”

O’Brien said the warning call and appeal for action by UN Secretary-General António Guterres could not be understated. He added that it was right to sound the alarm early rather than “wait for the pictures of emaciated dying children on the world's TV screens to mobilise a reaction.” He reiterated that the UN and its partners were ready to scale up their response but needed “the access and the funds to do more” adding that it was possible to “avert these looming human catastrophes.”
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