CHRISTIAN AID has called on the UK government to take urgent action to halt a devastating global hunger crisis, as a new World Food Programme (WFP) report reveals more of the world’s most vulnerable are at risk of acute hunger and starvation. 

The report warns “targeted humanitarian action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods in the 20 hotspots.” In four of these, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, humanitarian actions are “critical to preventing starvation and death.”

The WFP identifies conflict, the climate crisis, economic crisis, and lack of humanitarian access as key drivers of food insecurity. Last year, in response to the growing hunger crisis, Christian Aid launched an appeal to deliver life-saving food and support to people in need.

Fionna Smyth, Head of Global Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid, said: “It is near impossible to imagine what it must be like to wake up each day in desperate need of food and clean water to survive. But this report shows this is the reality for more vulnerable people around the world each day.

“In some of the countries Christian Aid works in, such as South Sudan and Afghanistan, the pandemic has crippled health systems and people’s ability to earn a living or grow food. Disproportionately so, it is women and children increasingly at risk.

“Just when the world’s most vulnerable need help the most, the UK Government has walked away from the world stage and its moral responsibility to help. UK aid cuts have meant vital funding from crucial lifesaving programmes has been pulled.

“With lives on the line, the UK government must play a full part in funding the $7 billion package needed to prevent famine globally. UK Ministers must also issue clear guidance, in line with the UN Security Council ruling, for UK aid agencies and banks to ensure aid gets to those in need in Afghanistan.”

South Sudan

In South Sudan, recently hit by the worst flooding in 60 years, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimates 2.4 million people are at risk of falling into famine, with famine already thought to be likely in areas of western Pibor.

Christian Aid’s Country Director in South Sudan, James Wani, said: “”The report notes that States and donors need to take urgent action before famine – such as pre-positioning supplies and preparing communities. Communities’ livelihoods and stocks have been wiped out three consecutive years by floods and they’ve not been able to recover. And now a fourth year is predicted. The hunger in these and other communities is also driven by conflict – we entirely agree with the report that urgent investment in peacebuilding is critical.”

Christian Aid, together with their local partner African Aid Development (ADA), is providing emergency life-saving support including blankets, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and cash to flood affected families in Fangak County in Jonglei state. However, in 2021 crucial church-led peacebuilding work in South Sudan was terminated because of the UK’s 59 per cent cut in aid to the country.


Even before the Taliban takeover, the country was struggling with Covid and a food crisis. With rising food prices and declining purchasing power for a population projected to fall below the poverty line almost in its entirety (97 per cent).

Christian Aid, alongside partners, has been in Afghanistan for over thirty years. Subrata De, Christian Aid’s Country Manager for Afghanistan, explained “we’re doing all we can to distribute food and emergency supplies, but we cannot run humanitarian programmes well without a functional banking system.” He added: “The situation is desperate, people are without wages, and many are resorting to selling anything to buy food.”

The prime minister, Boris Johnson had pledged (in August 2021) to ‘double’ UK aid to Afghanistan to £286 million, but this is still below 2019 levels, before sweeping cuts to the UK aid budget were implemented.

UN Security Council Resolution 1988 (22 Dec 2021) voted to introduce a humanitarian exception to sanctions on the Taliban means that humanitarian agencies and financial institutions that support them can now move humanitarian funding to Afghanistan via the banking system without fear of prosecution.

Christian Aid has since called on the UK government to issue guidance for UK agencies and banks  to ensure aid flows into Afghanistan “without delay”

* The World Food Programme report, Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity | February to May 2022 Outlook is available to download here.

* Source: Christian Aid