More than 28 million people across East Africa are at risk of extreme hunger if the March rains fail again, an international development charity warned Tuesday.
Oxfam International said the global food and commodity prices spiking in reaction to Ukraine crisis will worsen hunger for 21 million people already today in severe food insecurity in the region.
Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam executive director, said the region faces an extremely alarming hunger crisis, noting that areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and beyond are experiencing an unfolding full-scale catastrophe. “Even if the rains do arrive this month, full recovery will be near impossible unless urgent action is taken today,” Bucher said in a statement.
The charity warned that with the unfolding crisis in Ukraine taking their attention, there is a real danger that the international community will not respond adequately to the escalating hunger crisis in East Africa until it is too late.
It said a massive “no regrets” mobilization of international humanitarian aid is urgently required to avert destitution and to help the 21 million people already facing severe levels of hunger in the midst of conflict, flooding, and a massive two-year drought, unprecedented in 40 years, in countries across East Africa.
The charity said COVID-19-related hikes in global food and commodity prices were already undermining the options available to heavily indebted African governments to resolve the mass hunger facing their people. However, it said, the crisis in Ukraine will have catastrophic new consequences as it already pushes up food and commodity prices beyond what East African governments can afford.
Oxfam called on all donors to urgently fill the UN humanitarian appeal funding gap and to get funds as quickly as possible to local humanitarian organizations. It also called upon the governments especially from grain exporting countries to do all they can to find suitable alternatives to the imminent disruption in the supply chain from Ukraine towards low-income, food-import dependent countries.
According to Oxfam, countries in East Africa import up to 90 percent of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, adding that as disruptions begin to affect the global trade in grains, oil, transport and fertilizer, food prices are beginning to skyrocket. Enditem