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  • A woman collects grains left on the ground after food distribution in Ganyiel, South Sudan.

    A woman collects grains left on the ground after food distribution in Ganyiel, South Sudan. | Photo: AFP

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The UN humanitarian chief called for an urgent mobilization of funds, particularly for food assistance to Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. 

The United Nations is warning that the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine in four countries.

The world body's humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien called Friday for an urgent mobilization of funds – $4.4 billion by July – for northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen to "avert a catastrophe."

"Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost," O'Brien said to the UN Security Council. 

He called war-wracked Yemen "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world," with two thirds of the population, or 18.8 million people – three million more than in January – in need of assistance and more than seven million with no regular access to food.

During his visit last week to South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, O'Brien said he found a situation that is "worse than it has ever been." 

"The famine in South Sudan is man-made," he added.

More than half the population of Somalia – 6.2 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million at risk of famine.

In northeastern Nigeria, O'Brien said 10.7 million people need humanitarian aid, including 7.1 million people who are "severely food insecure."

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