February 25, 2017 (JUBA) - The Swiss government announced on Friday that it would contribute CHF15 million ($14.9m) to address the famine crisis affecting war-torn South Sudan, as well at food shortages in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.
The Swiss funds, it said in a statement, will be distributed among various humanitarian initiatives and organisations working in the affected regions where 20 million people stand to suffer if nothing is done soon.
"Switzerland is calling for rapid mobilisation of aid. Some 100,000 people are already experiencing famine in South Sudan and other countries in the region are also at risk,” the Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said in a statement.
The donation comes days after the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, appealed to countries to release funds for tackling famine.
“One of the biggest obstacles we face now is funding. Humanitarian operations in these four countries require more than $5.6 billion this year. We need at least $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe,” said Guterres.
So far, the UN said it has received commitments worth $90 million and this, Guterres stressed, adds up to only around two cents for every dollar needed.
South Sudan is reportedly a priority for the Swiss and humanitarian actions there will be coordinated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
An estimated 3.5 million people have been displaced by conflict in the country and 5 million are in urgent need of food due to conflict and economic instability.
Switzerland is said to have budgeted CHF20 million in aid for South Sudan this year.