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Plan International: Urgent Action Needed as 20 Million Face Famine

LONDON - Global child rights and humanitarian organization Plan International has joined the UN Security Council’s call to all parties in South Sudan, north-east Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen to urgently enable delivery of life-saving aid to millions trapped in conflict. More than 20 million people across the four strife-torn countries are facing an unprecedented level of humanitarian need and threat of famine. Almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.

The Security Council on Wednesday said that certain parties in these countries had failed to ensure unfettered and sustained access for deliveries of vital food assistance, as well as other forms of humanitarian aid. It also said that the prevailing situation was a major cause of famine.

“The world needs to step up its efforts to save the millions trapped in areas fast becoming death zones,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, welcoming the Security Council’s statement. “Humanitarian organizations are facing extreme challenges in providing life-saving assistance to millions in desperate need, as the situation continues to deteriorate into a catastrophe. We urgently need safe access and more resources to save lives.”

Plan International is delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan and Nigeria, and has warned that children—particularly girls—and women are at gravest risk.

“From starvation to extreme sexual violence, adolescent girls and women across affected countries are suffering some of the worst consequences of ongoing conflict and worsening food crisis. Every day women and young girls are being raped, forced into early marriage and experiencing extreme hardship to keep themselves and their families alive,” said Ms. Albrectsen.

The organization is calling for all humanitarian responses to be sensitive to the needs of children—especially girls and young women.

“Our experience in conflict situations shows that due to deep-rooted gender inequalities, girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Girls and women often eat less and last when food is scarce, as boys and men’s nutritional needs are prioritized,” said Colin Rogers, Plan International’s Head of Disaster Response. “Security concerns also more drastically affect girls and young women in relation to accessing food related aid. Girls and young women face danger and harassment while traveling to collect food and water, and remain at risk of exploitation in food distribution.”

The organization is calling for the implementation of adequate protection mechanisms and policies to ensure the safety of children, particularly girls and young women, in accessing food provisions and humanitarian assistance. This includes measures such as providing secure travel routes and gender sensitive child protection training to staff involved in humanitarian aid distribution.

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About Plan International USA Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. For more information, please visit

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