MADRID �The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a Fighting Famine campaign in Spain to warn about the severe food crisis that puts 20 million people at risk of dying of hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and the Northeast of Nigeria. In these places, 1.4 million children are suffering from severe malnutrition and their lives are at risk.

Famine is declared when there is evidence of extreme conditions regarding food access, child malnutrition and an increase in the death rate. Thanks to the intense response mounted by the humanitarian community, the famine declared in two counties of South Sudan in February has been overcome. To date, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria have averted famine.

Nonetheless, the situation is still critical. Three out of the four countries (with the exception of Yemen) are now entering the lean season, the moment of the year when the previous season's harvest has run out and food stocks are at their lowest. Also, the rains are making access by land difficult, and even impossible. Air transportation is sometimes possible but as much as seven times more expensive. In Yemen, the severe food crisis is caused by the consequences of armed conflict devastating the country.

WFP has implemented emergency response mechanisms that include food airdrops in remote areas in South Sudan and trucking in supplies to areas where people have fled from Boko Haram in Nigeria.

In June, WFP assisted 11.8 million people in the four countries facing famine. Almost half of them are in Yemen, where lack of funding has meant that WFP has been forced to make the difficult decision to reduce the amount of food each person in order to stretch resources further.

To shine a spotlight on this unprecedented food crisis, WFP is taking part in a worldwide #FightingFamine campaign. In Spain, Mastercard and MediaCom have donated resources and advertising space so that the initiative is channelled through press, online media, digital screens and street furniture. WFP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, and with this campaign, the UN agency is urging the private sector and individuals to take action to help prevent a looming humanitarian disaster.

WFP depends on the generosity of donor governments, supporters and partners to quickly deliver food to the affected people in these four countries. US$900 million is urgently needed for the period of August to January 2018 to meet immediate needs and avoid the spread of famine.

Source: World Food Programme

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