The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that more than a quarter of Africa’s population – 346 million people – is suffering a food security crisis that has millions of families skipping meals every day, an alarming famine situation that is certain to worsen in the coming months.
From Mauritania and Burkina Faso in the west to Somalia and Ethiopia in the east, the continent is gripped by a food crisis. In response, the ICRC will expand operations in ten countries, working together with other components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to assist an additional 2.8 million people.
“We are scaling up our operations in countries like Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and Burkina Faso and many others to try and help as many people as we can, but the number of people going without food and water is staggering,” the organisation said.
Insecurity has limited access to vulnerable communities, and the international armed war in Ukraine has led to rising food and fuel prices as well as lengthier delivery times due to supply route delays. Conflict, environmental shocks such as East Africa’s droughts and West Africa’s cumulative bad rainfalls, a major increase in displaced persons, and rising food and fuel prices have all contributed to the region’s overwhelming demands. To make matters worse, many of the countries affected are still dealing with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This is a disaster going largely unnoticed. Millions of families are going hungry and children are dying because of malnutrition,” says Dominik Stillhart, the head of ICRC’s global operations. “We need more people on board with this crisis. The bulk of ICRC’s work is helping people stay alive, but it’s not nearly enough. A crisis of this scale needs a concerted effort from governments, humanitarian partners, and donors to focus on mid- and long-term support to help those affected get back on their feet. This needs to be the priority.”
The ICRC, along with other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is assisting people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania, where the food security crisis is most acute.