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UN humanitarian chief briefs Security Council in meeting on conflict-induced hunger

17 Sep 2020

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A camp for internally displaced people in the town of Kalémie, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Credit: OCHA

In a briefing to the UN Security Council today, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock called for scaled-up support for humanitarian operations and more steps to assist the economies of countries facing large-scale hunger.

The briefing was part of an open videoconference held by Security Council members on conflict-induced food insecurity and the risk of famine, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

Noting that COVID-19 is making hunger “much worse”, the UN humanitarian chief added that the pandemic is dramatically increasing wider humanitarian need, with indirect impacts that are already deepening poverty, destroying livelihoods, undermining education, disrupting immunization, and exacerbating food insecurity, fragility and violence.

“Growing food insecurity is one of the major consequences of COVID-19,” Mr. Lowcock told the Council.

“The history proves that even in the midst of conflict, famine can be prevented. In order to prevent it, we must act. And we have to act in time to make a difference. Unfortunately, in too many places, time is now running out,” he added.

Mr. Lowcock’s full remarks are available online.

The Security Council was also briefed today by the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, and the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Qu Dongyu.

Today’s meeting follows the 4 September “Note by the Secretariat” sent by Mr. Lowcock to Security Council members warning about worsening food insecurity, including the risk of famine, as a result of armed conflict in the four countries. The note was sent in accordance with resolution 2417 of May 2018, which requests the Secretary-General to report swiftly to the Council when there arises “the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity”.