Middle East

UN: 20 million going hungry in 4 nations; $4.4B needed soon

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a young girl who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queues for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, a young girl who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queues for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 file photo, a mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The United Nations children's agency warned Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 that almost 1.4 million children are at "imminent risk of death" as famine threatens parts of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 file photo, a mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The United Nations children's agency warned Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 that almost 1.4 million children are at "imminent risk of death" as famine threatens parts of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, women who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queue for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)

    In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by UNICEF, women who fled fighting in nearby Leer in recent months, queue for food aid at a food distribution made by the World Food Programme in Bentiu, South Sudan. Famine has been declared Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. (Kate Holt/UNICEF via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the United Nations needs $4.4 billion by the end of next month to prevent "a catastrophe" of hunger and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Just $90 million has been collected so far.

Guterres said Wednesday that over 20 million people altogether are going hungry in those countries. Amplifying concerns that other U.N. officials expressed recently, Guterres said the world "is facing a tragedy" and "must avoid it becoming a catastrophe."

Children's agency UNICEF warned Tuesday that almost 1.4 million children are at "imminent risk of death" from acute malnutrition this year in the four countries. Already, famine was declared Monday in parts of South Sudan's Unity state.

Guterres says he believes governments and other donors will step up financially to help.