The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday appealed for 400 million U.S. dollars to tackle hunger crisis in Somalia, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria and Yemen.

A statement from the charity said the funds will ensure five million vulnerable people receive essential aid.

“We are on the ground and delivering aid in all four countries. We witness the massive suffering. Millions of people are denied the very basics to survive,” ICRC director of operations, Dominik Stillhart said in a statement.

Stillhart warned a massive scaling up of aid was needed to avert a further spiralling downwards in these countries.

Earlier this month, the UN announced that more than 20 million people were facing famine in the four countries following three consecutive years of drought. Stillhart said there was still time to avert a famine in Somalia and Yemen.

The UN has also warned that drought in the Horn of Africa is expected to intensify in the coming months, with a delayed start to the rainy season and depressed levels of precipitation forecast for March-May in most of the Horn region.

Stillhart said food, water, shelter and health care is required immediately, noting that the charity’s partners are increasing the response and also underlined the need to directly address the root causes of the crisis.

“No amount of aid money will overcome political obstructionism and a failure to abide by the norms of warfare. Ultimately, in these countries, famine is a by-product,” Stillhart said.

He said the root cause is the presence of long term, intractable conflict. “It’s the conflict that renders agricultural land unusable, that forces people to flee their homes, and that destroys hospitals and other vital services,” he added.

The ICRC official called on warring parties to make every effort to abide by the norms of warfare, and said States must better use their influence to make this happen.

“Violations of the laws of war are directly leading to massive suffering so we need to address how war is waged.”

In addition to the ICRC appeal, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners in the 4 countries will need at least a further 100 million dollars to fund their response to the crises.

ICRC Africa director Patricia Danzi said decades of conflict and lack of respect for the rules of war have forced many Somalis to flee their homes time and again, and left them extremely vulnerable.

“The severe drought and limited access to essential services only increases the suffering. We must act now to avert further tragedy,” Danzi said. Enditem

Source: David Musyoka, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh