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Press Release

“Catastrophe has already arrived” - The IRC steps up response to famine threat across Africa region, described by U.N. as “largest humanitarian crisis since 1945”

  • The International Rescue Committee predicts imminent famine in Somalia, Yemen, and northeastern Nigeria
  • The IRC scales up emergency response across the region, calls for urgent increases in funding

The International Rescue Committee today described looming famines facing Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria, as well as the already declared famine in South Sudan, as a “catastrophe that has already arrived.”

The IRC is stepping up its emergency response, adding resources to teams already in place across the region. The enhanced IRC response includes nutrition stabilization centers and mobile health clinics to reach those in need as well as health, protection, water, sanitation and livelihoods programming.

Ciaran Donnelly, SVP of international programs at the International Rescue Committee said:

“The catastrophe has already arrived. We’re now in a simple fight to save lives—it is a fight against the clock that the international community is currently losing.

An immediate increase in humanitarian resources to the affected regions, commensurate with the scale and intensity of needs, is beyond critical.

We’ve been here before. We know that it is already too late for too many. But with more resources we also know we can save lives.”

The famine in South Sudan’s Unity State is a worrying escalation of an already immense humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the Horn and East Africa region, the International Rescue Committee warned today.

Similar crises—also driven by violence and war—are unfolding in Yemen and northeastern Nigeria. Throughout these regions, insecurity, severe drought and an exponential increase in food prices have brought millions to the brink of famine—as humanitarian organizations struggle to reach those who need their help most.

The situation is similar in Somalia where more than a million people are internally displaced, and over three million are facing starvation, with this number expected to triple by August 2017, according to projections by the Famine Early Warning System Network. Neighboring Kenya is also a concern, with Somali displacement across the borders, as well as an intensifying drought gripping parts of the country.

A key challenge across these regions is humanitarian access—it is dangerous for aid staff to operate in these areas—violence and insecurity continue to make it difficult to reach most in need.

Donate to the IRC’s response to famine in South Sudan and the crisis across parts of East Africa here.

IRC spokespeople available in the region and in London, New York and DC.

Learn more about the crisis here.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.