UN pulls US$100 million from emergency fund in bid to avert famines

United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Tuesday (Nov 17) he would use US$100 million from the world body's emergency fund to help seven countries try to avert famine fuelled by conflict, spiralling economies, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some US$30 million will be spent in Yemen, US$15 million each in Afghanistan and northeast Nigeria, US$7 million each in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo and US$6 million in Burkina Faso. Lowcock said US$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 agonising and humiliating deaths," Lowcock said.

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

Nearly US$500 million has been paid into the UN 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.

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