Some 20 million people from 4 countries, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Northern Nigeria are undergoing famine conditions. The UN and food aid organizations ‘s definition of famine is when more than 30% of children under age 5 suffer from acute malnutrition and the mortality rate is 2 or more death for each 10,000 people each day. The number of people is the highest since the founding of the UN in 1945 right after WWII. The UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Stephen O’Brien, describes that many will simply starve to death, or suffer and die from disease unless help is given them. The problem is that by July $4.4 billion are needed to prevent a human catastrophe. And of course funding to UN agencies and its humanitarian work has been reduced or held up, and the US contribution may be further reduced. Unless there is a major infusion of money, O’ Brien reminds people that the children who survive would be stunted by severe malnutrition, would not be able to attend school all placing the rest of their lives in jeopardy. The economic development of the countries would also be reversed worsening the livelihood and future for millions. The causes are not even. In Yemen about 2/3rd of the population needs aid as a result of the proxy war by Saudi Arabia and Iran. In South Sudan the issues are more man made due to the 3-year old civil war, where both sides refuse to allow a stop to the violence. In Somalia drought conditions have worsened the situation, and in Northern Nigeria the consequences of fleeing from Boko Haram are being felt.
Piracy has begun again off the coast of Nigeria and off that of Somalia. It may have oblique tangents to the famine, but it’s sure to be related—perhaps a message for us that we can ignore human suffering only to create unwanted consequences..