East Africa famine: worst humanitarian crisis since World War II

Africa (MNN) — As you read this, 20 million people stand at risk of starvation in and around Sub-Saharan Africa.

(Representative image courtesy of Open Doors USA)

Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are facing a famine the United Nations says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Both drought and terrorist violence are key factors in the largely man-made famine.

“What’s particularly difficult about it is that it is by-and-large a man-made famine,” shares Emily Fuentes of Open Doors USA, a ministry which serves persecuted Christians worldwide. “Drought has affected it, some other things have affected it, but a lot of it’s man-made — either groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia blocking aid workers from coming in because they’re viewed as Western, or government officials seizing food in South Sudan so the people won’t get it.”

The situation in Yemen is especially grim. According to the UN, it’s the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with 18.8 million people in need assistance and more than seven million who do not know where their next meal will come from. United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said $4.4 billion is needed by July to curb the disaster.

“We stand at a critical point in history,” O’Brien told the UN Security Council in March. “Already at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA via Facebook)

Christians are one group especially at risk due to persecution from terrorist groups. Fuentes says it’s important we don’t abandon them in their suffering.

“What’s especially difficult for our work is that Christians are being impacted by it because they’ve been displaced, in Nigeria specifically by Boko Haram,” Fuentes says. “It’s especially important for Christians to be paying attention, not only for their own brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and facing the famine, but then for all other people who are facing the famine in all these countries.”

Open Doors works on the ground with partners in several countries affected by famine to assist families at risk of starvation. She says your prayers and financial support are vital. Click here for ways to get involved, and here for resources to help you stay informed about this great need.