As world faces unprecedented famine threat, G7 should pay up and push for peace

May 24, 2017

Deadly famine is already affecting 100,000 people in parts of South Sudan and threatens to extend to Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. Widespread famine across all four countries is not yet inevitable, but G7 leaders need to act now with a massive injection of aid, backed with a forceful diplomatic push to bring an end to the long-standing conflicts that are driving this hunger crisis.

Prime Minister Trudeau and other G7 leaders meeting in Taormina, Sicily, this week should take the lead in fighting famine and immediately fund nearly half ($2.9 billion) of the UN’s urgent appeal to avoid catastrophic hunger and more deaths, urged Oxfam Canada today. Without an immediate and sweeping response, this crisis will spiral out of control.

Further delay will cost more lives.

"The world’s most powerful leaders have a responsibility to act now to prevent a catastrophe happening on their watch." – Julie Delahanty

Julie Delahanty, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, said: "Political failure has led to the hunger crisis facing millions of innocent people, and political leadership is needed to resolve it. The G7 summit in Taormina is a critical moment for Prime Minister Trudeau to provide the needed leadership in the face of an unprecedented crisis. The world’s most powerful leaders have a responsibility to act now to prevent a catastrophe happening on their watch."

Oxfam’s latest report On the Brink, shows that if each G7 government contributed its fair share to the UN's appeal for $6.3 billion for all four countries, this would raise almost half of the total required. Currently these UN appeals are still only 30 percent funded, and no G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four countries.

Delahanty said: "In a world of plenty we are facing an unprecedented famines in four countries, and life is becoming impossible for many as they face hunger, displacement and death. As is often the case in crises, women and children are the most at risk. Women face violence and rape on a daily basis as they take risks to search of food and water for their families."

"We need to see a commitment for an immediate injection of aid from all G7 leaders, including to Oxfam and other responding organizations working directly with communities on the frontlines,” added Delahanty.

"At home, we are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada’s Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau to encourage the generosity of Canadians by matching their donations."

"Putting additional money towards a matching relief fund – like Canada so memorably did in response tothe Syrian refugee crisis – would show others nations that we are leading by example."

Conflict, arms trade and famine

In addition to funding the UN appeal, G7 leaders should press for immediate ceasefires and inclusive peace processes, as well as for safe access to places where aid agencies are having trouble reaching people in need. Conflict has driven millions of people from their homes and communities, cutting them off from their fields, jobs, food, and markets.    

In Yemen, countries including G7 members continue to supply weapons, munitions, military equipment, technology, or logistical and financial support for military action that is in contravention of the rules of war. In South Sudan, three years of conflict have displaced more than 3.5 million people – including 2 million children. Women and girls continue to be at elevated risk of violence, including sexual violence and rape. Somalia also remains an active conflict where access is limited by Al Shabaab, as well as other parties involved in the conflict. Nigeria’s conflict has spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon forcing 2.6 million people to flee and leaving nearly 11 million people in need of emergency aid.   

Famine and hunger are also the glaring symptoms of larger challenges that include climate, migration and inequality - which must all be tackled together if progress is to be made.

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Notes to Editors: 

  1. Download Oxfam’s latest policy report on what governments need to do to avert the threat of global famine: On the Brink Report
  2. Oxfam will be attending at the G7 summit with spokespeople for interview on the ‘four famines’, inequality, climate and migration in English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Chichewa/Nyanja and Tumbuka.
  3. Oxfam will be presenting a number of stunts over the period of the summit on the themes of the 4 famines, climate and migration. The first will take place on the morning of Thursday 25 May and will be on the subject of the four famines, taking place near the International Media Centre in Giardini Naxos. Contact us for further details.
  4. Oxfam can offer journalists the opportunity to visit some of our programs supporting migrants in Sicily. Contact us for further details.
  5. The UN ‘four famines’ appeal was originally launched for a total of $5.6 billion  http://interactive.unocha.org/emergency/2017_famine/index.php  and was later revised up to $6.3 billon after the Somalia response plan was updated in earlier this month http://reliefweb.int/report/somalia/somalia-humanitarian-response-plan-m...
  6. Oxfam’s fair share analysis: Oxfam calculates its fair share analysis by comparing data from the UN’s Financial Tracking System (FTS) and information received from G7 members with their national income. No G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four nations facing famine. (The FTS website may not have been updated with recent pledges.)  

According to UN figures, as of May 18, only 30 percent of the $6.3 billion needed has been received. Country by country, this means that Nigeria is only 21 percent funded; Somalia, 33 percent; South Sudan, 42 percent; and Yemen, 21 percent.

G7 leaders must commit to fund their fair share for each country, while pressing other donors to do their part, in order to prevent more people from dying of hunger. These contributions alone would mean $492 million for Nigeria, $703 million for Somalia, $764 million for South Sudan, and $964 million for Yemen.  

G7 must also commit to increase aid for longer term solutions that build resilience and improve food security and nutrition, in order to prevent further crises from escalating into disasters.

Only one G7 leader (UK) has provided its fair share for Yemen, two (UK and Canada) for South Sudan, two (UK and Germany) for Somalia and two (Canada and Germany) for Nigeria.

The United States Congress commitment of $990m to address famine in the four countries is welcomed, but this must be urgently translated into aid on the ground if the impact of famines is to be reduced.   

View or download Oxfam’s fair share analysis here:  Fair Share Analysis

  1. About 30 million people are experiencing alarming levels of hunger in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen - 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. (10 million people are at IPC4 and 5, and a further 20 million people are at IPC3.)
  • South Sudan: 4.9 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-5, including 100,000 already in famine)
  • Yemen: 17 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-4)
  • Somalia: 3.2 million people dangerously hungry in Somalia (IPC Phases 3-4)
  • Nigeria: 4.7 million people dangerously hungry in northeast Nigeria (IPC Phases 3-5)
  1. Climate change is helping to fuel a humanitarian disaster in East Africa where 13 million people are dangerously hungry and Somalia is on the brink of famine: https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/mb-climate-crisis-east-a...
  2. Oxfam is responding directly and with local organizations across the affected countries delivering food and other essential aid including cash so that people can buy from local markets. It is striving to ensure people have clean water to be used for drinking, cooking, washing and sanitation and to fight waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. We are also helping vulnerable communities, focusing especially on women, to stay safe and access aid in these unstable circumstances.

Contact information

Contact information at the G7 summit:  

Contact information in Canada: