According to United Nations humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien, we are facing down the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. He’s speaking of the more than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria who are facing starvation. He has asked the U.N. security council for $4.4 billion by July of this year, noting that, “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”
The crisis is being driven by conflict in all four nations, including the ongoing fight against Boko Harem in Nigeria and the civil war that has raged in South Sudan since 2013 (where 42% of the population are food insecure). These are significant, man-made problems that are likely going to get worse during the lean season of June–August, pushing home the need for a quick reaction by the United Nations.
While the United Nations takes such crises seriously and will help to the best of their ability, there is of course room for nonprofits and individuals to help as well. In a time when the United States government is talking about cutting foreign aid, generous Americans will hopefully step up to make a difference.
These problems may not be in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. The kinds of problems that are faced by the people in these countries are the kind that tend to fuel further conflict, whether in a military sense or in the form of terrorism. People pushed to the edge can become desperate.
But even if that doesn’t happen, it is not the fault of the average person in these countries that they are subject to famine. Why should they suffer while so many of us have more than what we need? This is an opportunity to help our neighbors. Let’s just hope that help arrives before more people die.
Photo credit: EU/ECHO at Flickr Creative Commons.