20M face starvation in largest humanitarian crisis since 1945

Image A girl in Somalia

In addition to funds, he urged for aid groups to be guaranteed "safe and unimpeded access" to deliver humanitarian aid.

"We stand at a critical point in history", he said, the BBC reported. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.

Without the assistance, however, "many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost, and political gains that have been hard-won over the last few years will be reversed".

For instance, food insecurity in Somalia and starvation in South Sudan are accelerating the flow of refugees into Ethiopia and Uganda.

In January, a report by the Famine Early Warning System Network, FEWS NET, an agency supported by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, had said that due to persistent conflict, severe drought and economic instability, Nigeria and three other countries faced a credible risk of famine in 2017.

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He announced that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will chair a pledging conference for Yemen on April 25 in Geneva.

He said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, an increase of 1.4 million from previous year.

He noted that two thirds of Yemen's population - around 19 million people - need assistance, while "more than 7 million are hungry and do not know where their next meal will come from".

"The situation for people in each country is dire and without a major global response, the situation will get worse".

On the United Nations response in these locations, Mr. O'Brien highlighted that strategic, coordinated and prioritized plans are in place and dedicated teams on the ground are closely working with partners to ensure that immediate life-saving support reaches those in need.

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Six years ago, when a starvation was declared in Somalia, almost 260,000 people died.

Fighting on the ground and air strikes on areas held by Houthi rebels, targeted by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the USA and United Kingdom, have displaced more than three million people.

Mr O'Brien added: "What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was distressing - women and children walk for weeks in search of food and water. They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on", he said. But we need the access and the funds to do more.

In north-east Nigeria, a seven-year uprising by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has driven 2.6 million people from their homes.

The OIC General Secretariat was following with deep concern the starvation, the consequences of which have started to appear in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region in general due to serious drought due to shortage of rainfall, the statement said.

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