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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Trump pledges $639 million in aid to four countries

US president Donald Trump's pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg

HAMBURG // US president Donald Trump on Saturday promised US$639 million in aid to feed people left starving because of drought and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Mr Trump's pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, providing a "godsend" to the UN's World Food Programme, the group's executive director, David Beasley, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

"We're facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two," said Mr Beasley, who was nominated by Mr Trump to head the UN agency fighting hunger worldwide.

The new funding brings to over US$1.8 billion aid promised by the US for fiscal year 2017 for the crises in the four countries, where the UN has estimated more than 30 million people need urgent food assistance.

"With this new assistance, the United States is providing additional emergency food and nutrition assistance, life-saving medical care, improved sanitation, emergency shelter and protection for those who have been affected by conflict," USAID said in a statement.

Rob Jenkins, acting head of the USAID's bureau of democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, said of the funding, over $191 million would go to Yemen, $199 million to South Sudan, $121 million to Nigeria and almost $126 million for Somalia.

Conflict in all four countries had made it difficult to reach some communities in need of food, he noted.

Mr Beasley said the US funding was about a third of what the WFP estimated was required this year to deal with urgent food needs in the four countries in crisis as well as in other areas.

The WFP estimates that 109 million people around the world will need food assistance this year, up from 80 million last year, with 10 of the 13 worst-affected zones stemming from wars and "man-made" crises, Mr Beasley said.

"We estimated that if we didn't receive the funding we needed immediately that 400,000 to 600,000 children would be dying in the next four months," he said.

Meanwhile, a WFP spokesman said Germany recently pledged an additional 200 million euros for food relief.