Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Government pledges emergency aid to 4 regions struck by famine

The government has responded to the appeal made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to prevent millions of people from dying of starvation in Yemen, North East Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan. ‘The UN is warning of complete catastrophe in South Sudan alone, with women and children hiding in dangerous swamps and reduced to eating the roots of swamp plants to survive,’ said development minister Lilianne Ploumen. ‘In Yemen, one child dies every 10 minutes due to violence, hunger and lack of medical assistance. In Somalia, families are walking hundreds of kilometres in the burning sun to find water. And in Nigeria, severe malnutrition is threatening the lives of half a million children.’

In addition to existing pledges, the government is releasing an extra €2 million in emergency aid for the regions affected, where society has effectively collapsed. Farmers are unable to work their land, causing drastic food shortages. This is sometimes due to climate change, such as El Niño, and sometimes due to war. Or a combination of the two. ‘It is terrible to see leaders choosing violence instead of dialogue, over the backs of innocent people,’ Ms Ploumen added.

The government’s emergency aid will be channelled through Giro555, the Dutch aid agencies coalition, which has experience of working in crisis areas. Earlier this week Giro555 launched an appeal for individual donations. ‘More than 25 million people urgently need food, and now,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘There is a lot to do, and we need to do it quickly. Governments and the public need to join forces to make it happen.’ Since the end of 2016, the Dutch government has pledged more than €33 million in emergency aid for the 4 regions.