February 22, 2017 (JUBA) - The United Nations needs at least $4.4 billion by the end of next month to prevent "a catastrophe" of hunger and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, its newly-appointed Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said.
- António Guterres (UN photo)
More than 20 million people face starvation in the four countries and action is urgently needed now to avert a humanitarian disaster, Guterres said on Wednesday.
"We need $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe," he said.
According to Guterres, the world body has only managed to raise $90m of what it needs.
Three U.N agencies and South Sudan government on Monday declared famine in parts of the country, with an estimated 5 million said to be at the verge of facing starvation.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said almost 1.4 million children acutely malnourished in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen could die from famine in coming months.
"The situation is dire," stressed Guterres.
"Millions of people are barely surviving in the space between malnutrition and death, vulnerable to diseases and outbreaks, forced to kill their animals for food and eat the grain they saved for next year’s seeds," he added.
In South Sudan, tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in the country’s worst ever outbreak of violence since it seceded from Sudan.