Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Interview

UN: Over half a million children risk dying of hunger

Over half a million children will soon die in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, if food is not delivered.

"We are not talking about fake news here, we are talking about 600,000 children who are literally going to die in the next three to four months," David Beasley, who heads the World Food Programme (WFP), told EUobserver earlier this week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The stark warning comes ahead of a WFP funding shortfall that risks further aggravating what Beasley has described as the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

Beasley, who was in Brussels as part of a tour to raise funds, said that the Rome-based humanitarian organisation needs just under €1 billion for the next six months to feed 17 million people in all four countries.

Of those, around 1.4 million are severely malnourished children.

Cuts in funding in 2015 among EU states to the organisation, a branch of the United Nations, are said to have deepened the problem.

Saudis should fund aid to Yemen

The EU and member states are starting to pay more, but other countries around the world are falling behind, Beasley said.

"If you are not going to give us the money we need to feed the children, the people, then stop the conflict," he said, referring to a Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

To fund all aid for Yemen, Beasley said he would be launching an appeal to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.

"The Saudis ought to be funding 100 percent of the humanitarian needs there, no question. The Gulf States need to be stepping up more," he said.

"I'm not talking about pledging, I am talking about writing the cheques," he added.

In regard to South Sudan, he said around 1 million refugees are now in northern Uganda, displaced by an ongoing civil war.

"It is not fair for other nations and countries to bear the burden of their conflict," he said.

Similar appeals had been made in 2014 when every EU member state, with the exception of The Netherlands, had slashed contributions to the WFP.

The move forced the organisation to halve assistance to almost 1.3 million Syrian refugees in the region at the time.

It also, according to the European Parliament in 2015, helped trigger an exodus of Syrian refugees towards the EU.

“Faced with such harsh conditions who can blame people for seeking a safe haven in Europe”, said the EU parliament president at the time, Martin Schulz.

Food insecurity forces people to flee

A WFP study, out earlier this year, also found that food insecurity and armed conflict are among the top reasons for people fleeing to seek refuge elsewhere.

The study noted that a one percent rise in hunger levels forces up to 200 out of every 10,000 people to leave the country.

Beasley say man-made conflicts are now the primary driver behind the food crisis. Out of the top 13 countries struggling to feed their people, 10 are ravaged by war.

The EU has given around €200 million to the organisation so far this year.

Beasely said he was also able to secure money from the US, despite overall cuts in development aid by the administration of US president Donald Trump.

"The United States is a huge issue, that's the 800 pound gorilla. I mean they are, what, 30 to 40 percent of the total [WFP] funding," he said.

The US congress recently passed a supplemental appropriations bill, with $990 million dedicated to famine relief, he said.

Beasely, a former governor of South Carolina, described the US move as a ray of light amidst the darkness, and said that president Trump understood the broader implications of famine.

Feature

South Sudan: Inside Africa's largest refugee crisis

Despite EU and international aid, Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda is struggling to care for people fleeing an under-reported war and famine in South Sudan that has displaced millions.

EU wary over Ukraine weapons in South Sudan

Ukraine, which had signed an EU arms embargo on South Sudan, has since sold attack helicopters used by the government forces in Juba against civilians and hospitals.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us