UNITED NATIONS, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed the importance of conflict resolution to address the root cause of famine in some African countries.

Despite more aid from the international community, the numbers of people at risk of famine have grown in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria, Guterres told the Security Council.

In South Sudan, some 6 million people are severely food insecure, up from 5 million at the beginning of the year, he said. "Humanitarian aid is saving lives. But we have not dealt with the one major root cause of these food crises: conflict."

Some 8 percent of the World Food Programme's funding is going to areas affected by conflict. Around 60 percent of the 815 million people suffering from hunger today live in the shadow of conflict. Three-quarters of the stunted children in the world are in countries affected by conflict, he noted. "Until these conflicts are resolved, and development takes root, communities and entire regions will continue to be ravaged by hunger and suffering."

Guterres called on the parties to conflict in all four countries to honor their commitment to peace. He asked them to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief, only impose constraints in good faith, and respect and protect humanitarian personnel and supplies.

Guterres also stressed the importance of famine prevention.

Early famine warning mechanisms have worked well in the four countries, he said. "Humanitarian aid and strengthened respect for international law must be complemented by investment in sustainable peace and comprehensive long-term solutions."

These countries are dealing with violent extremism at the same time as they are hit by economic recession and low oil prices. They are powerful examples of the complex and multi-dimensional challenges. They require a system-wide approach that addresses the humanitarian-development nexus and its link to peace, said Guterres.

"In the long term, we must focus on what communities and countries need to emerge from protracted conflict and instability. We must help people not just to survive, but to thrive."


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