The world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, the United Nations says, issuing a plea for help to avoid “a catastrophe“.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said that more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.

Unicef has already warned 1.4m children could starve to death this year. Mr O’Brien said $4.4bn (£3.6bn) was needed by July to avert disaster.


Humanitarian:  adjective, /hjuːˌmæn.ɪˈteə.ri.ən/

The United Nations is sending humanitarian aid (= food and supplies to help people) to the areas worst affected by the conflict.


Issue    verb, /ˈɪʃ.uː/ /ˈɪs.juː/

to produce or provide something official:

“The office will be issuing permits on Tuesday and Thursday mornings”


Plea   noun  /pliː/  formal

an urgent and emotional request:

“He made a plea for help/mercy.”

“Aid organizations are making an urgent plea for financial assistance.”


Catastrophe     noun /kəˈtæs.trə.fi/

a sudden event that causes very great trouble or destruction:

“They were warned of the ecological catastrophe to come.”


Starvation   noun   /stɑːrˈveɪ.ʃən/

the state of having no food for a long period, often causing death:

“20 million people face starvation unless a vast emergency aid programme is launched.”


Famine   noun   /ˈfæm.ɪn/

a situation in which there is not enough food for a great number of people, causing illness and death, or a particular period when this happens:

“There were reports of refugees dying of famine.”


Starve to death   /stɑːrv/

to (cause someone to) become very weak or die because there is not enough food to eat:

“Whole communities starved to death during the long drought.”

When the aid stopped, thousands of people simply starved to death.”


Avert    verb   uk /əˈvɜːt/ us /əˈvɝːt/

to prevent something bad from happening:

“to avert a crisis/conflict/strike/famine”

“to avert disaster/economic collapse”

“talks failed to avert a rail strike”