Amy B Wang writes: For 16 days, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nation’s undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, traveled from one afflicted country to another, talking to people who were traumatized. Starving. Desperate for peace.
Many had been displaced, the victims of airstrikes and constant fighting, of drought and imminent famine.
By the time O’Brien returned to the United Nations, the humanitarian chief had committed several statistics to heart, each one illustrating a deep gash the agency needed to address in its efforts around the world.
In Yemen, he said, more than 7 million people are hungry and do not know when they will eat again. That represented a staggering increase of more than 3 million people since January.
In South Sudan, more than 7.5 million needed assistance, including 1 million malnourished children.
In Somalia, 6.2 million were in need of aid.
And in northern Kenya, the number of people who were “food insecure” was likely to reach 4 million by April.
In all, more than 20 million people in those four countries faced starvation and famine, O’Brien said in a lengthy address to the U.N. Security Council on Friday.
O’Brien’s grim report came as President Trump proposed slashing U.S. spending on the United Nations by more than half, as reported by Foreign Policy.
“We’re absolutely reducing funding to the U.N. and to various foreign aid programs,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said during a news conference Thursday, according to Fox News. When asked by how much, he replied simply: “A lot.”
The United Nations warned against the proposed cuts Thursday. “Abrupt funding cuts can force the adoption of ad hoc measures that will undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’s spokesman said in a statement.
French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said the cuts could result in instability worldwide. [Continue reading…]