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UN Warns Of Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945 With 20 Million Starving

A woman collects grains left on the ground after a food distribution drop last week in South Sudan, which has been declared the site of the world's first famine in six years, affecting about 100,000 people.

The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945, with more than 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine, the UN humanitarian chief said on March 10.

Stephen O'Brien told the UN Security Council that "without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death" and "many more will suffer and die from disease."

He urged an injection of $4.4 billion in emergency aid by July for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria, plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid "to avert a catastrophe."

Without a major infusion of money, he said, children will be stunted by severe malnutrition and won't be able to go to school, gains in economic development will be reversed and "livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost."

The UN defines famine as when more than 30 percent of children under age 5 suffer from acute malnutrition and mortality rates top two per 10,000 people every day.

"We are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations," O'Brien said, with the worst crisis in Yemen, where two-thirds of the population needs aid and more than seven million people are hungry.

Based on reporting by AP and BBC