Two thirds of hungry people live in conflict-hit countries — UN

NEW YORK, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock on Friday urged the Security Council to play a greater role in breaking the link between hunger and conflict.

In doing so, the Council will make a significant contribution to famine eradication and sustainable development, Lowcock, speaking via videoconference from Dubli, told a Council meeting on the link between hunger and conflict.

He emphasized the prospect of wiping out famine “within our lifetime,” noting that almost two thirds of people living in hunger were in conflict-stricken countries.

Yemen, South Sudan and north-eastern Nigeria still face severe levels of hunger, while the food security situation in Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was extremely worrying, he stressed.

The Council members had influence over parties to conflict, while the organ itself had the means to investigate violations of international humanitarian law, as well as the means to enhance accountability, he noted.

Peace and political solutions would disrupt the cycle of conflict and hunger, he said, adding, “This Council’s main responsibility is peace and international security. In other words, this Council can help prevent famine to ever occur again.” Meanwhile, David Beasley, the World Food Program’s Executive Director elaborated on those points.

Also speaking via videoconference from Biel, Switzerland, he said that hunger was on the rise worldwide mostly because “people won’t stop shooting at each other.” With terrorists using food as a weapon of recruitment and war, the United Nations, donors and Member States should use food as a weapon for reconstruction, peace and to bring people together.

He called on the Council to help end war, with the world facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the founding of the United Nations.

“Unity should be a priority. While differences often arose, they should not surface on all issues,” he said, pressing the Council to make certain that funds and access were available for providing humanitarian support.

In the ensuing debate, representatives underscored the complex link between conflict and hunger, aggravated by such factors as climate change, and the importance of addressing root causes, including through the promotion of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Several delegates called for better early-warning mechanisms that would enable the Secretary-General to expeditiously bring looming crises to the Council’s attention.

Many also emphasized respect for international humanitarian law, and for those hindering the delivery of humanitarian assistance to be held accountable for their actions.

On her part, Sigrid Kaag, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Council President for March, said that in today’s world of abundance, technology and big data, famine was completely avoidable, and when it happened, it was man-made.

“It occurs where people harm other people,” she said.

Recalling her recent visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, she cited a persistent failure of warring parties complying with rules, causing civilians in conflict to suffer.

Flouting the law of war not only turned norms into hollow phrases, but also eroded the rules-based international order, Kaag argued.

Outlining a framework for action, she called for guarantees for humanitarian access and action against violators of international law before stressing the importance of political solutions to bring an end to the suffering.

Today’s meeting followed up on a letter from the Secretary-General to Member States on 21 February 2017 on hunger and conflict, and on a presidential statement on 9 August 2017 through which the Council expressed grave concern about the threat of famine facing Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria (see press release SC/12946).

Also speaking today were representatives of C?te d’Ivoire, Peru, Bolivia, Sweden, United Kingdom, Equatorial Guinea, United States, China, Poland and France.

Source: Kuwait News Agency