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“This really is an absolutely critical situation that is rapidly unfolding across a large swathe of Africa from west to east.”
The risk of mass starvation in four countries — northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — is rising rapidly due to drought and conflict, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday.
About 20 million people live in hard-hit areas where harvests have failed and acute malnutrition rates are increasing, particularly among children, it said.
In South Sudan, where the United Nations declared famine in some areas in February, “a further 1 million people are now on the brink of famine”, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said.
“We are raising our alarm level further by today warning that the risk of mass deaths from starvation among populations in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Nigeria is growing,” Edwards told a news briefing.
“This really is an absolutely critical situation that is rapidly unfolding across a large swathe of Africa from west to east,” he said.
People are on the run within their countries and greater numbers of South Sudanese refugees are fleeing to Sudan and Uganda, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
A preventable catastrophe, possibly worse than that of 2011 when 260,000 people died of famine in the Horn of Africa, half of them children, “is fast becoming an inevitability”, Edwards said.
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