Famine Crisis


1.4 million children are in imminent risk of death as famine looms in four counties.

The threat of famine is looming in South Sudan, Somalia, north-east Nigeria and Yemen, where ongoing conflict and drought has led to severe food insecurity. Right now, 1.4 million children are in imminent risk of death.

UNICEF is scaling up its humanitarian response across all four counties to provide lifesaving therapeutic food to over 1 million children. UNICEF is restoring and equipping health facilities, developing medical and nutritional supply pipelines and providing clean water to children and their families.

South Sudan

In South Sudan, the number of people struggling to find enough food each day has grown to six million, the highest level of food insecurity ever experienced in South Sudan. This year, almost 276,000 children are estimated to be severely malnourished and in need of immediate life-saving aid.


In Somalia a fragile population, battered by decades of conflict, have been further exposed by prolonged drought conditions. It is estimated up to 275,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2017, making them nine times more likely to die of killer diseases such as cholera, acute water diarrhoea and measles, which are spreading through the country.


A medical practitioner uses a mid upper arm circumference measuring tape on a child at the Dalaram health and malnutrition clinic run by the government and supported by UNICEF in Borno State, Nigeria,

In north-east Nigeria, Boko Haram violence continues to contribute to large-scale population displacement, limit market activity and restrict normal livelihoods. Around 5.2 million people remain severely food insecure, with 450,000 children expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year. The start of the rainy season will further complicate the humanitarian response, with deteriorating road conditions and flooding making populations harder to reach, and raising the risk of water-borne diseases.


In Yemen, almost 400,000 children are estimated to be severely malnourished, an unprecedented cholera outbreak, with over 175,000 suspected cases and more than 1,000 deaths to date, has complicated the ongoing humanitarian response. Some of the children who have become ill or died from cholera were already suffering from malnutrition, weakening their immune system. The health system is on the brink of collapse, with hospitals and treatment centres struggling to cope and medicines and medical supplies quickly running out. Famine is possible in a worst-case scenario as the conflict continues.