The Swiss government announced on Friday that it would contribute CHF15 million ($14.9 million) towards tackling the famine crisis affecting South Sudan, as well at food shortages in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.
The Swiss funds will be distributed among various humanitarian initiatives and organisations working in the affected regions where 20 million people stand to suffer if nothing is done soon.
"Switzerland is calling for rapid mobilisation of aid. Some 100,000 people are already experiencing famine in South Sudan and other countries in the region are also at risk,” said Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter in a statement.
Two days ago the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, appealed to countries to release funds for tackling famine.
“One of the biggest obstacles we face now is funding. Humanitarian operations in these four countries require more than $5.6 billion this year. We need at least $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe,” he said.
So far, the UN has received commitments worth $90 million. According to Guterres, this adds up to only “around two cents for every dollar needed”.
South Sudan is a priority for the Swiss and humanitarian actions there will be coordinated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s office in the capital Juba. Switzerland has budgeted CHF20 million in aid for the country in 2017. The additional contribution will be used to support distribution of food and provision of medical care. Around 3.5 million people have been displaced by conflict in the country and five million are in urgent need of food due to conflict and economic instability.