Hunger and Conflict in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen

Apr 11, 2017

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, in 2017, some 70 million people across 45 countries will need emergency food assistance. Severe drought and economic instability are part of the problem, but so is violent conflict.

Indeed, “It's important to stress that these crises are largely man-made with other compounding factors,” said Matthew Nims, Acting Director of USAID's Office of Food for Peace.

This is certainly true of South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Famine was declared in parts of South Sudan in late February, while Nigeria and Yemen are at high risk of famine.

In South Sudan, the civil war that began in December 2013 as a consequence of the power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar escalated into a civil war. An estimated 5.5 million people—nearly half of South Sudan's population—will face life-threatening hunger due to this man-made crisis.

In Nigeria, an estimated 5.2 million people will face severe food insecurity by June, particularly those displaced in Borno State.“There are signs that famine likely occurred in 2016, and may be ongoing in parts of the state that humanitarian actors are unable to reach,” said Acting Director Nims.

The United States, said Mr. Nims, has provided nearly $386 million since Fiscal Year 2016 for people affected by the ongoing crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region.

In Yemen, over 17 million people are food insecure, seven million of whom are in need of emergency food assistance. Starting in Fiscal Year 2016, the U.S. government has contributed nearly $432 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, said Mr. Nims.

In South Sudan, the United States has not waited for a famine declaration to intervene and will continue to respond robustly to save as many lives as possible. The U.S. is the single largest provider of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, having provided more than $2.1 billion since the start of the conflict in December 2013.

“We remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance around the world as both a moral imperative and as a direct benefit to the well-being of the United States.”