Countries urged to fight hunger not each other

AID organisations, including Save the Children, have called on governments to give a single day’s military spending to fight hunger.

Only 26 hours of global military spending is enough to cover the $US5.5 billion ($AU7.1 billion) needed to help those most at risk.

One year since the UN warned of “famines of biblical proportions”, rich donors have funded just 5 per cent of the UN’s $US7.8 billion ($AU10.08 billion) food security appeal for 2021.

More than 200 NGOs have published an open letter calling on all governments to urgently increase aid to stop more than 34 million people from being pushed to the brink of starvation this year.

The $US5.5 billion ($AU7.1 billion) additional funding recently called for by the UN WFP and FAO equates to less than 26 hours of the $US1.9 trillion ($AU2.46 trillion) that countries spend each year on defence.

Yet, as more and more people go to bed hungry, conflict is increasing.

At the end of 2020, the UN estimated 270 million people were either at high risk of, or already facing, acute levels of hunger.

Already 174 million people in 58 countries have reached that level and are at risk of dying from malnutrition or lack of food, and this figure is only likely to rise in coming months if nothing is done immediately.

Globally, average food prices are now the highest in seven years.

Conflict is the biggest driver of global hunger, also exacerbated by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

From Yemen, to Afghanistan, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria, conflicts and violence are forcing millions to the brink of starvation. Many in conflict zones have shared horrifying stories of hunger.

Fayda from Lahj governorate in Yemen says: “When humanitarian workers came to my hut, they thought I had food because smoke was coming from my kitchen. But I was not cooking food for my children – instead I could only give them hot water and herbs, after which they went to sleep hungry. I thought about suicide several times but I did not do it because of my children.”

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary General called for a global ceasefire to address the pandemic but too few leaders have sought to implement it.

Global leaders must support durable and sustainable solutions to conflict, and open pathways for humanitarians to access those in conflict zones to save lives.

Amb Ahmed Shehu, Regional Coordinator for the Civil Society Network of Lake Chad Basin said the situation here is really dire.

“Seventy per cent of people in this region are farmers but they can’t access their land because of violence, so they can’t produce food,” Shehu said.

“These farmers have been providing food for thousands for years – now they have become beggars themselves.

“Food production is lost, so jobs are lost, so income is lost, so people cannot buy the food.

“Then, we as aid workers cannot safely even get to people to help them.

“Some of our members risked the journey to reach starving communities and were abducted – we don’t know where they are.

“This has a huge impact on those of us desperate to help.”

In the first quarter of 2021, donors have provided just 6.1 per cent of the total $US36 billion ($AU46.55 billion) requested in the UN humanitarian appeals for the year.

The military spending figures are based on 2019 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which estimated global military spending at $US1.9 trillion ($AU2.46 trillion)

Save the Children’s CEO, Inger Ashing said we have warned donors over and over again – their inaction is leading to death and despair among children, as we see in countries across the globe every single day.

“A pledging conference for Yemen in early March did not even raise half of the funds needed, and that country is at a tipping point,” Ashing said.

“It’s painful, because governments have the money. That thousands of children will be dying of hunger and disease in 2021 is a political choice – unless governments radically choose to help save the lives of children.”

Additional information: icvanetwork.org/SignOpenLetterFaminePrevention

Story source: Save the Children Australia

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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