U.N. draws on emergency fund in bid to avert famines

The United Nations’ General Assembly Hall in Manhattan. (BWZenith/iStock/Getty Images)

United Nations | Reuters — United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Tuesday he would use US$100 million from the world body’s emergency fund to help seven countries try to avert famine fueled by conflict, spiraling economies, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some $30 million will be spent in Yemen, $15 million each in Afghanistan and northeast Nigeria, $7 million each in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo and $6 million in Burkina Faso (all figures US$). Lowcock said $20 million had also been set aside in anticipation of a worsening situation in Ethiopia.

“The prospect of a return to a world in which famines are commonplace would be heart wrenching and obscene in a world where there is more than enough food for everyone. Famines result in agonizing and humiliating deaths,” Lowcock said.

“Their impact on a country is devastating and long lasting,” he said in a statement.

Nearly $500 million has been paid into the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund in 2020. It is used to enable the world body to respond quickly to new humanitarian crises or underfunded emergencies without having to wait for earmarked donations.

— Reporting for Reuters by Michelle Nichols.

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