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UN's 2021 humanitarian response plan: 'The very real prospect of children starving to death'

London, 1 December 2020 – Following the release of the UN’s humanitarian response plan for 2021, which shows a dramatic 40 percent increase in the number of people needing assistance next year, Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK, said: 

"This has been a year like no other, and the UN’s prognosis for humanitarian assistance in 2021 is bleak at best. But the numbers only paint part of the picture. To understand the cost of conflict, climate change and COVID-19 on some of the world’s most vulnerable people, you have to see the face of a hungry child whose mother is coping with two failed harvests and rising food prices, unable to even breast-feed because she lacks enough nutritious food to eat herself.  

"Despite the huge strides we have made in tackling global hunger in recent decades, we are now looking at the very real prospect of children starving to death. Our research suggests an estimated 11 million children under five are at risk of extreme hunger or starvation across 11 countries, with potential famines looming in Yemen and South Sudan.  

"And we have ourselves to blame because the world has enough food to feed everyone. Global hunger is not a natural disaster, it is a man-made one. At a time when humanitarian access should be expanding, it is in fact shrinking. And at a time when the international community should be coming together to help the world’s poorest, aid budgets are being reduced and humanitarian funding is drying up.  

"Years from now we will look back at 2020 and assess whether our decisions created a better world for everyone, whether our shared humanity prevailed. Ensuring every child everywhere has access to nutritious food and can grow up healthy, surely, must be a good place to start."

Save the Children has spokespeople available for interview. Please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 0207 012 6841 / 07831 650 409 (24 hrs).