Crisis in the Horn of Africa at risk of being forgotten, Christian Aid warns

International development charity Christian Aid has warned “the cost of living crisis is global and demands urgent action” as people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia face rising hunger and acute water shortages amidst the worst drought in 40 years.

The intervention comes as new polling by Savanta, commissioned by Christian Aid, shows seven in ten (71%) of the British public said the war in Ukraine and the consequences of rising food prices made them worry more about people facing hunger.

However, while nine in 10 (91%) of the British public is aware of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine just two in ten (23%) is aware of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

With a report recently published by the Global Network Against Food Crises calculating that the number of people experiencing crisis-levels of hunger or worse across the globe rose by 40 million in 2021 alone, concerns for the region are growing.

In the report, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns the war in Ukraine is “supercharging a three-dimensional crisis -- food, energy and finance -- with devastating impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, countries and economies.”

Ahead of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting from 12 to 14 May, Christian Aid has joined with a coalition of international aid charities in urging the UK Government to act to prevent famine, keep food affordable and stabilise prices and commit to reversing cuts to international aid.

In Northern Kenya, working with their local partner Community Initiative Facilitation and Assistance (CIFA), Christian Aid has helped 31,500 people impacted by drought and food shortages across Laisamis, Korr and Loglogo in Marsabit County.

CIFA, with support from Christian Aid, has also improved access to water in Korr, Laisamis and Loglogo by helping to repair and service multiple wells. Water is now available to more people and for livestock with journey times cut by three quarters.

To help keep livestock alive, over 43,000 livestock belonging to nearly 3,000 families were de-wormed and provided with emergency veterinarian treatment. This included deworming nearly 19,000 sheep, more than 23,000 goats, nearly 300 cattle and nearly 600 camels.

Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s new Chief Executive, said:

“Across the Horn of Africa, up to 20 million people are facing hunger. Droughts have become increasingly severe and frequent, and so this is not a surprise.

“However, the war in Ukraine has turned a bad situation into a dire crisis. With rocketing food and energy costs around the globe, we are seeing people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing a crisis like no other.

“While we cannot thank the public enough for their response to humanitarian needs in Ukraine, the fact that so few people in Britain are aware of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is deeply concerning.

“We must sound the alarm and give hope to people in need in the region. The cost of living crisis is global and demands urgent action from the government and the development sector.

"The UK Government must give the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa proper attention and take action to prevent a devastating famine. This will be made much easier if the UK restores the international aid budget and works closely with the international community.

“G7 leaders, who pledged $8.5 billion in the 2021 Famine Prevention Compact to end starvation, must act for the long-term and deliver on their promises.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

A note on methodology:

Savanta interviewed 2197 UK adults online from 29th April to 2nd May 2022. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of UK adults by age, gender, region, working status and social grade. Savanta is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Question: The war in Ukraine has seen global food prices accelerate and increase the risk of shortages. To what extent does news like this make you worry more or less about people facing hunger elsewhere in the world?

It makes me much more worried

30%

It makes me a little more worried

41%

It doesn't make me any more or less worried

23%

It makes me a little less worried

2%

It makes me a much less worried

1%

Don't know

3%

Net: more worried

71%

Net: Less worried

3%

Question: Are you aware of the following humanitarian crisis?

Crisis : Yes / No / Don’t know

Ukraine : 91% / 7% / 2%

Syria : 74% / 25% / 5%

Afghanistan: 73% / 22% / 4%

Yemen: 60% / 34% / 6%

South Sudan: 48% / 45% / 6%

Myanmar: 43% / 51% / 6%

Horn of Africa: 23% / 69% / 7%

Open letter to UK Ministers:

A coalition of 15 international aid agencies, led by Christian Aid, have written to Ministers calling for them to commit new funding to tackle famines around the world in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Please see the text of the open letter below:

The conflict in Ukraine is a grave humanitarian disaster, and the worst in Europe since 1945. We are moved by the extraordinary generosity and solidarity shown by the British public to people whose lives have been torn apart. The commitment of £400m in economic and humanitarian aid from the UK Government to the people of Ukraine is vital.

International aid charities are now moving at speed and scale to support local humanitarian responders to provide aid, both to people inside Ukraine’s borders and among those forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries. We must now gather our strength for the long haul as the situation looks likely to get worse before it gets better.

In this moment of unprecedented support to Ukraine, we must also recognise that the conflict is causing suffering far beyond its borders, including through the twin impact of rising food and energy costs. This is exacerbating pre-existing hunger crises for many countries, including in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Middle East, which will threaten political stability. If we don’t act fast the threat of famine will increase for millions of people.

The UK must play a leading role in responding both to the urgent needs of Ukraine and of those people around the world who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The global hunger crisis is not temporary, and it is not a surprise. After decades of progress in reducing hunger, it has almost doubled since 2019.

Globally, 45 million people were already at risk of famine, with women and girls making up 60% of food insecure people worldwide. The UN projects that a further 8-20 million people will now be left hungry from the knock-on effects of soaring prices and broken supply chains for grains, cooking oil, fertiliser and fuel. Girls and women face particular risks, as they often eat less and last when food is scarce. Even before the crisis, the UN’s World Food Programme reported that 3 million children a year died from malnutrition - one every 10 seconds.

In 2017, the UK’s action helped to avert the worst of a hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Similarly effective and quick action is needed again now. The UK Government, working with local and international partners, cannot wait until famine strikes. We can and must act urgently to prevent a food crisis. We call on the UK Government to:

Show leadership among the G7 and urgently take concrete action to uphold G7 Famine Compact and Nutrition for Growth Commitments, including new funding to prevent famine in countries already on the brink. Reverse cuts to international aid by returning to a commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI). Funding for Ukraine must be in addition to all existing UK aid commitments, not money diverted away from other crises.

Support efforts to keep food affordable and stabilise prices.

Prioritise World Bank capacity for crisis preparedness and a response that respects human dignity and environmental sustainability.

We should see hope in the generous and welcoming public response to people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. The UK Government must match the spirit of the British public’s response to the DEC Ukraine appeal and look beyond the borders of Europe. That is the litmus test of ‘Global Britain.’

Faithfully,

Jean-Michel Grand, Action Against Hunger UK

Frances Longley, ActionAid UK

Chris Roles, Age International

Mike Adamson, British Red Cross

Christine Allen, CAFOD

Laurie Lee, CARE International UK

Patrick Watt, Christian Aid

Danny Harvey, Concern Worldwide

Laura Kyrke Smith, International Rescue Committee

Waseem Ahmad, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB

Rose Caldwell, Plan International UK

Gwen Hines, Save the Children UK

Nigel Harris, Tearfund

Mark Sheard, World Vision UK

Source: Christian Aid

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