OTTAWA: Canada will provide almost $120 million to help avert the prospect of starvation for 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
The pledge comes in response to a United Nations warning earlier this month that the desperate situation in the four countries represents the ``largest humanitarian crisis'' the world has faced since the end of the Second World War.
The UN has said $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid is needed by July to avert disaster.
Canada's contribution of $119.25 million, to be delivered through UN agencies and non-governmental humanitarian organizations, will go towards the provision of food, health care services, clean water and sanitation facilities, and support to protect people's income-generating activities.
In particular, the aid is to be targeted at the most vulnerable, generally women and children.
``Severe food insecurity'' in the region is the result of internal conflicts, which have displaced millions, and major drought in Somalia.
In February, the UN declared a famine in parts of South Sudan.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who announced the new humanitarian aid Friday, urged all factions in the conflicts to allow safe access for aid workers so that they can provide much-needed help to those at risk of starvation.
``The situation facing people is dire indeed,'' Hussen said.
``Many have lost their homes as they flee from local conflicts. This leads to an itinerant life where families are on the run, without any of their usual supports.
``Forced to abandon their farms and livestock, people have lost the means of feeding their families. The same conflicts which drove them to leave everything behind are the same ones keeping humanitarian aid from reaching the very people who need it most.''
The new aid includes $27 million for Nigeria, $21 million for Somalia, $37 million for South Sudan and $34 million for Yemen.