United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference on humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 22, 2017. Over 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria are facing "devastating" levels of food insecurity, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters here on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Over 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria are facing "devastating" levels of food insecurity, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters here on Wednesday.
Among them, nearly 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition, according to UN statistics.
"Humanitarian operations in these four countries require more than 5.6 billion U.S. dollars this year," said Guterres. "We need at least 4.4 billion dollars by the end of March to avert a catastrophe."
According to Guterres, to prevent the risk of severe famines, the UN needs to scale up humanitarian operations in these four countries to deliver food and nutrition, but funding shortages are the biggest obstacle.
So far this year, the UN has received 90 million dollars for funding humanitarian programs in these four countries, said Guterres, "around two cents for every dollar needed."
Therefore, he urged the international community to "do whatever is in their power" to mobilize support, exert political pressure on parties to conflict and fund humanitarian operations.
He also appealed to the parties to conflict to allow aid workers access to reach people who are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Apart from emergent funding, Guterres also asked for reform to enhance cooperation between UN humanitarian and development agencies to build a long-term coordinated approach to respond to crises.
A steering committee will be set up to link the UN development group and the inter-agency standing committee for humanitarian assistance, according to Guterres.