#ICYMI Weekly Roundup: Conflict at the Root of Famine, March 24, 2017

This week, ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the global state of humanitarian affairs. You can watch the complete hearing and download his testimony here. During the hearing, Daccord focused on the urgent need for humanitarian efforts worldwide, but especially in four of the most severely affected countries: South SudanSomaliaNigeria, and Yemen. In addition, he spoke about the scope and roots of the problem, including protracted armed conflict, the ICRC’s mandate and operational responses on the ground, compliance to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the vital role of the US in its support to the ICRC’s work and to humanitarian action more broadly. He was later quoted in a letter sent by members of the committee to the State Department urging immediate action.

The humanitarian situation is now verging on catastrophic and in all four countries, the crises are man-made, experiencing years of years of violence and suffering. Protracted conflict lies at the root of these humanitarian crises. Here are a few statistics:

  • Hospitals in Yemen with which the ICRC works have reported a 150% increase in child malnutrition cases.
  • In South Sudan, it is estimated that one in three households is in urgent need of food.
  • In Nigeria, in the state of Borno, 300,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the next twelve months.
  • In Somalia, the number of children under the age of five we are treating for malnutrition has risen 23% from the same period in 2016.

For this week’s roundup, we take a look at some of the conversations and discussions happening around protracted conflict at the root of famine as portrayed by the media and other online outlets. **

 ICRC: Only Months Left to Avert Famine in Africa and Yemen (Voice of America)

Lisa Schlein speaks to ICRC Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart, who said agencies must urgently scale up their humanitarian operations and international donors must support these efforts to prevent millions of people in these countries from starving to death. "This is not business as usual," he said. "Twenty million people facing starvation is not something that we are dealing with every day and, therefore, we really need to act now. If we act now, especially in Yemen and in Somalia, famine can be averted."

Famines Are Man-Made, But We Also Have the Power To Prevent Them (Huffington Post)

Oxfam’s Mark Goldring writes about the current situation: “For this to be happening in the 21st century is a damning indictment of our common humanity. While these food shortages have been caused by both conflict and drought, a famine is always the result of either political choices or catastrophic human failure.”

Heartbreaking scenes of war and famine in South Sudan childrens' hospital (CBS News)

Debora Patta reports, “One million children are in desperate need of food, but the fierce fighting means aid workers can’t reach the areas that need it most. There are critical food shortages now throughout the country. A clinic’s head nurse told Patta, “I just feel pain, what can we do? A school age child is supposed to be in school. A school age child is not supposed to be dying just like that.”

Devastating Drought (Vice) Video

Gianna Toboni introduces this video segment originally aired on HBO. Somalia is on the brink of famine. About 6.2 million Somalis are urgently in need of aid right now, and that number is likely to increase.

In Yemen’s war, trapped families ask: Which child should we save? (Washington Post)

Sudarsan Raghavan writes, “The family of Osama Hassan faced a wrenching choice as his tiny body wasted away. Should they use the little money they had, in a time of war, to take the 2-year-old to a hospital? Or should they buy food to feed their other children? His family chose food.”

Are you a writer, videographer, photographer or blogger publishing interesting stuff linked to armed conflict, international humanitarian law (a.k.a. the law of armed conflict), innovation, compassion, history, etc. that you think deserves a shout-out here? Send us a link and we might feature your content next week. Write to: nclark (at) icrc (dot) org

**The usual Intercross disclaimer: Just because something is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it, and the views expressed on the platforms we're highlighting don't necessarily represent those of the ICRC. **