Over 20 Million People Facing Starvation – And We Should Care!

Posted on August 31, 2017 By

by Tony Magliano

Think of a time when you were hungry. Remember how it felt, a bit uncomfortable, right? You may have even said, “I’m starving!” But you knew that in a short time the next meal would be there for you. Knowing that a good meal was awaiting you allowed your slight hunger to actually whet your appetite.

Now imagine that you are very hungry and have no idea where the next meal will come from for you and your family. In this case your hunger is physically painful and terrifyingly stressful.

Imagine now that there is no work to be found, the drought has dried up your crops. Your livestock are dead. And you and your family have eaten the last seeds that were meant for next season’s planting.

Now how are you feeling?

This is how many Africans and others are feeling, especially those in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, and nearby Yemen. In these nations over 20 million people are facing famine and starvation. Armed conflict and severe drought are the main engines driving this emergency – the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II  (see: http://arcg.is/2tjzoRe).  

 “Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease,” said Stephen O’Brien, U.N. under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs. He emphasized that to avert a catastrophe, immediate adequate funding from wealthy nations is critical.

O’Brien said the largest humanitarian emergency was in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, where two-thirds of the population – 18.8 million people – desperately need aid, and over seven million people are hungry and don’t know where their next meal will come from (see: http://bit.ly/2ks1Mvt and http://bit.ly/2mRAMr7).

Compounding the famine, Yemen is now facing the world’s worst cholera outbreak according to the U.N., which has placed blame on all sides of the nation’s ongoing conflict between the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthis (see: http://cbsn.ws/2ui2bph).

An editor friend of mine in Nigeria put me in touch with Bishop Stephen Mamza, head of the northeast Nigerian Diocese of Yola. Bishop Mamza sent me a report with his assessment of the crisis in Yola. His report states that the U.N. World Food Program’s response to the food crisis in Nigeria is critically underfunded, meaning that hundreds of thousands of food-insecure northeast Nigerians are not being helped.

 Bishop Mamza wrote that he and other diocesan aid workers visited a makeshift settlement where “we met scores of hungry, malnourished and crying children who told us that they had not eaten for three days.”

American citizens should email and call their two U.S. senators and congressperson highlighting this emergency and urging that instead of slashing funding to programs that feed desperately hungry fellow human beings and programs that assist the poorest of the poor to build self-sustaining lives, the 2018 fiscal year budget needs to robustly increase funding for these life-saving programs (see:  http://bit.ly/2uLv0qI).

And urge them to stop supplying weapons to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition waging war in Yemen and instead to broker an immediate cease-fire with total access to humanitarian relief.

Catholic Relief Services is on the ground in Bishop Mamza’s diocese and throughout Northeast Africa working to ease the suffering. Please help them expand their life-saving efforts by making a generous donation to CRS’ “Africa Hunger Crisis Emergency Fund” (see: http://bit.ly/2wMIxQf).


“For I was hungry and you gave me food” (Matthew 25: 31-46).  

 [Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.]        




  1. Vasu Murti says:

    “The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country.”

    “We feed these animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats. Less than half the harvested agricultural acreage in the United States is used to grow food for people. Most of it is used to grow livestock feed.”

    To supply one person with a meat habit food for a year requires three-and-a-quarter acres. To supply one lacto-ovo-vegetarian requires only one-half of an acre. To supply one pure vegetarian (vegan) requires only one-sixth of an acre. In other words, a given acreage can feed twenty times as many people eating a pure vegetarian (vegan) diet-style as it could people eating the standard American diet-style…

    “In a world in which a child dies of starvation every two seconds, an agricultural system designed to feed our meat habit is a blasphemy. Yet it continues, because we continue to support it. Those who profit from this system do not need us to condone what they are doing. The only support they need from us is our money. As long as enough people continue to purchase their products they will have the resources to fight reforms, pump millions of dollars of ‘educational’ propaganda into our schools, and defend themselves against medical and ethical truths.

    “A rapidly growing number of Americans are withdrawing support from this insane system by refusing to consume meat. For them, this new direction in diet-style is a way of joining hands with others and saying we will not support a system which wastes such vast amounts of food while people in this world do not have enough to eat.”

    –John Robbins, Diet for a New America

    • Bill Samuel says:

      Vasu, this is true, but will help little in cases like Yemen where hunger is largely the result of war. There are a number of different things we need to do to reduce hunger and move towards sustainability. One of these is change of diet. Another is ending wars.

      • Vasu Murti says:

        Bill, abortion and war are the karma for killing animals. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between killing animals and killing humans. Trying to end abortion or bring about world peace while ignoring the institutionalized killing of billions of animals is like trying to prevent lung cancer while ignoring smoking: a physical impossibility. Consistent Life, taking a stand against both abortion and war, really should have animal rights issues at the top of its agenda.

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