Most Americans Oblivious To Extreme Hunger Crises Overseas

Devastating food shortages threaten millions of lives in Africa and the Middle East, but a new poll finds little interest.
STEFAN HEUNIS via Getty Images

Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in the crisis-afflicted countries of Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

A staggering 85 percent of Americans don’t know that, or are only dimly aware.

A new national poll from the International Rescue Committee found that only 15 percent of registered U.S. voters know “a lot” about the extreme food shortages and near-famine conditions in Africa and the Middle East. Once briefed, however, the issue was listed as a top concern ― especially among millennials.

The poll findings support United Nations data showing a trend of “public fatigue,” or a decline in interest, in global hunger crises for the first time in several years. Somalia and South Sudan, in particular, “crises which normally command high levels of public attention,” have declined in internet traffic and searches, the U.N. noted in its 2016 Data and Trends report.

The slackening interest comes at time when the world faces its worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, yet many global powers, including President Donald Trump’s administration in Washington, are fighting to drastically reduce foreign aid.

Nearly half of the 1,351 people surveyed in the IRC poll believe the U.S. should “cut back” in assisting developing nations. Just over one-third think the U.S. has an obligation to provide support.

Trump has proposed slashing the 2018 U.S. Agency for International Development budget by 28 percent. Such cuts could cost lives, especially in embattled countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, aid workers have warned.

The president also signed an executive order seeking to reduce the number of refugees who could be resettled in the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 in the 2017 fiscal year. In addition, Trump has imposed a ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia and Yemen.

The IRC poll reveals 48 percent of Americans know “a lot” about Trump’s travel ban, while 38 percent know “some.” Two-thirds have little or no concern for the issue.

Read HuffPost’s list of 7 Forgotten World Crises That Urgently Need Your Support to learn how you can help. You can also read our coverage of the hunger crises in Africa and the Middle East here.

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