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Concern criticises poor famine response from the world's wealthiest nations

Press release28 March 2017

Concern Worldwide has criticised the poor global response to an “urgent” $4.4 billion appeal made last month by the United Nations to avert catastrophe in four countries facing famine.

With just $428 million (€394 million), or 9.7 per cent, of the appeal collected so far, Concern is calling on the international community to reply adequately to the call from UN Secretary-General António Guterres for “strong and urgent” action by the end of this month to prevent a tidal-wave of deaths from hunger and malnutrition.

Concern Worldwide Chief Executive, Dominic MacSorley, praised the €11 million ($11.9 million) given by the Irish government, the £36 million ($45.1 million/€41.6 million) received from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) East Africa appeal in the UK and the hundreds of thousands of euro donated by people in Ireland.

However, Mr MacSorley said much more is needed from the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations. 

He said: “$428 million has actually been received in response to the UN appeal - about ten cents for every dollar needed.

“Despite pledges from some donors, including the Irish government, globally the funding has barely trickled in.

“Right now, averting famine will require three things: First, a rapid injection of funding to enable the delivery of more humanitarian assistance.

“Secondly, agencies need full and unimpeded access to affected populations. That includes an immediate end to blocking food aid and ensuring safe passage for humanitarian convoys. None of this is impossible.

“Third, these crises are all primarily caused by conflict. Ending conflict needs to be addressed much more systematically at an international level. 

"A starting point is to support the United Nations Secretary General call for a ‘surge of diplomacy’ to address the rising levels of conflict across the globe.

“If we are unconvinced of the need to respond rapidly we should remember what famine does. It kills people rapidly. The weakest, the young and the old die first. It also has long term effects on those who survive it. 

“Children subjected to acute malnutrition are often permanently affected, both physically and mentally, even after adequate nutrition is restored. 

“Famine itself is a declaration of failure, a failure to prevent. Famines occur when conflict is allowed to fester and societies and economies are progressively torn apart."

The appeal for $4.4 billion was made by the UN on February 22 to help 20 million people in urgent need of assistance in South Sudan (where famine is already a reality in parts of the war-torn country), Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria.

Concern Worldwide has launched its own appeal to help the millions in need in East Africa so that its staff can provide critical aid like food, water and shelter.

The aid agency urges anyone who wants to donate to the appeal to contact them at


For interview requests and more information, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at 086 358 2886 or email

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