He spoke about his recent trip to Somalia, where more than 200,000 people are currently at risk of famine, a figure expected to reach 300,000 by November, “with millions more” on the brink of starvation.
Recent humanitarian assessments have identified hundreds of thousands of people facing catastrophic levels of hunger, or phase 5 of the Integrated Phase Classification system, the final and most devastating stage.
“There is simply nothing worse than that,” the OCHA chief said, noting that the widespread suffering boils down to the direct and indirect impact of the conflict and “the behavior of the parties to the conflict.” ‘Tactics of war’ Mr. Griffiths observed that “a similar pattern repeats itself in every context”, highlighting how civilians are killed and wounded; forcibly displaced families; interruption of access to the market and work; looting of food reserves; while the general economic decline puts food out of reach for the vulnerable.
“In the most extreme cases, warring parties have deliberately cut off access to commercial supplies and essential services that civilians depend on for survival,” he said.
“Hunger is used as a tactic of war.”
While aid workers have extended “relief lifelines”, interference, harassment and attacks often prevent access to those in need.
“Aid workers will stay and deliver, but conditions in some contexts are unacceptable,” the OCHA chief said.
Snapshots More than seven years of armed conflict in Yemen have wreaked havoc, leaving some 19 million people acutely food insecure.
“An estimated 160,000 people are facing a catastrophe and 538,000 children are severely malnourished,” the Relief Coordinator said, warning that funding gaps could make the situation worse.
Last year, South Sudan was one of the most dangerous places to work as an aid worker, with 319 violent incidents against humanitarian staff and goods.
Meanwhile, more than 13 million people in Afar, Amhara and Tigray in Ethiopia are in need of vital food assistance.
While improvements were seen in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia, “the resumption of hostilities in recent weeks is undoing recent progress,” he said.
As for northeast Nigeria, the UN projects that 4.1 million people face high levels of acute food insecurity in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, including 588,000 people who already faced emergency levels between June and August, almost half of which were unreachable for humanitarian assistance.
“Food security assessments could not be done in these areas, but we fear that some people are already at the catastrophe level and are at risk of dying,” he said.
Taking action The humanitarian chief reminded the ambassadors that action can be taken, starting with leaving no stone unturned in the search for “peaceful and negotiated resolutions” to conflicts and other violent situations.
Second, states and armed groups must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid.
Mr. Griffiths also highlighted climate change as an issue “central to peace and security” both now “and for decades to come”.
He implored all member states to prioritize “a longer-term approach and secure a substantial proportion of financing, as grants, not loans, for climate adaptation and mitigation.”
“Time is not on our side,” he concluded.
Fanning the flames Fresh from a trip to Central America, World Food Program (WFP) chief David Beasley saw firsthand how the conflict is “adding fire to the flames” of what is already a serious food crisis.
From the arduous crossing of the Darien Gap to Guatemala, he told “tragic stories” of people migrating north “out of sheer desperation.”
“The impact of the climate crisis and the ongoing knock-on effects of COVID have already strained the ability of many families to cope,” he said.
“People feel like they have nothing left: they can either stay and starve, or go and risk dying for the chance of a better future.”
‘Unprecedented’ global emergency The WFP chief argued that under the threat of growing famine and mass starvation, “we are facing a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude”.
And since the Ukraine conflict began, “a wave of hunger has turned into” a tsunami “, he continued, noting that as many as 345 million people in 82 countries are “moving towards starvation.”
“This is a record – now more than 2.5 times the number of acutely food insecure people before the pandemic started.” Mr. Beasley presented staggering statistics on the dire situation facing hundreds of millions of people around the world.
As violent conflict pushes millions of “innocent civilians ever closer to starvation and famine,” he called on the Council to “demonstrate the humanitarian leadership that the world urgently needs right now and…
break the vicious cycle of hunger and conflict, which is fueling a global food shortage.
insecurity crisis that threatens to get out of control”.
“The hungry people of the world are counting on us to do the right thing, and we must not let them down,” concluded Mr. Beasley.