President Donald Trump recently proposed major cuts on funding of humanitarian efforts on the African continent and elsewhere and the timing couldn’t be any worse.
Africa is currently facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people facing starvation.
Humanitarian agencies working in famine-affected areas are now on the edge amid the proposal cuts which aims to reduce the aid by $10 billion.
“Any cuts at this time are extremely significant, not just for us but for any U.N. agencies and any aid organization,” said David Orr, WFP’s Africa spokesman, at a media briefing in Johannesburg.
“With the magnitude of needs at the moment is it vital that we continue with a high level of assistance.”
The U.S. is WFP’s largest donor contributing a total of $2 billion last year. That was 24% of is WFP’s total budget.
South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, as well as nearby Yemen are facing severe hunger this year.
U.N. estimates a total of $5.6 billion will be used in operations in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria. At least $4.4 billion is needed by the end of March to avert a catastrophe, but so far the U.N. has only received $90 million.
“The more dramatic cuts in any aid budgets, the more the number of debts, the more suffering there is going to be,” Orr said.
“We have a situation where famine has been declared in two counties in Unity state in South Sudan. That means there are already people dying in those places. This has been caused by a combination of factors including conflict, which prevents access. Humanitarian intervention is very difficult. Huge numbers of people are displaced,” Orr said.
“Now famine is threatening in other parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.”