The threat of famine facing four countries simultaneously is "unprecedented," according to a senior official with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
FAO Assistant Director-General Kostas Stamoulis said that the formal declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan, and threat facing northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, "demands swift action".
Ana Carmo has more.
Mr Stamoulis said that the four countries affected needed immediate food assistance but also "livelihood support" to try and prevent the threat of famine from reappearing.
He made his appeal following the publication of FAO's latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report on Thursday.
The report indicates that although food supplies are robust around the world, access to food has been "dramatically reduced" in areas suffering from civil conflicts.
That's especially true in East Africa, where drought conditions are adding to increasing food insecurity.
Of the 38 countries in need of outside help to feed their people, 28 are in Africa, which is due in part to the lingering effects of last year's El NiAo weather pattern, which drove continental drought.
Agricultural production is expected to improve in southern Africa, but fighting in many other parts will add to displacement and hunger for many, said FAO.
Ana Carmo, United Nations.
Source: United Nations Radio