Sunday, December 5

UN agencies warn millions are at risk of famine without a massive influx of aid

Hunger is expected to increase by 23 global hotspots in the next three months with the highest alerts for “catastrophic” situations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria. two UN agencies warned on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Program said in a new report on “Hunger Hotspots” between August and November that “acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further.”

They placed Ethiopia at the top of the list, saying the number of people facing hunger and death is expected to rise to 401,000, the highest number since the 2011 famine in Somalia, if humanitarian aid is not provided. quickly.

In southern Madagascar, which has suffered the worst drought in 40 years, pests affecting staple crops and rising food prices, 14,000 people are expected to be pushed into acute food insecurity. ” catastrophic “marked by starvation and death in September. . And that number is expected to double by the end of the year with 28,000 people in urgent need of help, the two agencies said.

In a May report, 16 organizations, including FAO and WFP, said that at least 155 million people were acutely hungry in 2020, including 133,000 in urgent need of food to avoid widespread death from starvation, an increase of 20 million from 2019.

“Acute hunger is increasing not only in scale but also in severity,” FAO and WFP said in Friday’s report. “Overall, more than 41 million people around the world are now at risk of famine or similar conditions, unless they receive immediate assistance to save lives and their livelihoods.”

The two Rome-based agencies called for urgent humanitarian action to save lives at the 23 hotspots, saying aid is especially critical in the five highest-alert locations to prevent hunger and death.

“These deteriorating trends are primarily driven by the dynamics of the conflict, as well as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said. “These include spikes in food prices, movement restrictions that limit market and pastoral activities alike, rising inflation, declining purchasing power, and an early and prolonged lean season” for crops.

FAO and WFP said South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria remain on the highest alert level, with Ethiopia joining for the first time due to Tigray and southern Madagascar.

South Sudan

In South Sudan, they said, “famine was likely occurring in parts of Pibor County between October and November 2020, and was expected to continue in the absence of sustained and timely humanitarian assistance,” while two other areas remain at risk of famine.

“In Yemen, the risk of more people facing famine-like conditions may have been contained, but progress remains extremely fragile,” UN agencies said. “In Nigeria, populations in conflict-affected areas in the northeast may be at risk of catastrophic levels of food insecurity.”

Nine other countries also have high numbers of people facing “critical food insecurity” along with factors that exacerbate hunger: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and Syria, according to the report.

Six countries have been added to the hotspot list since the agencies’ March report: Chad, Colombia, North Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua, it said. Three other countries also facing acute food insecurity are Somalia, Guatemala and Niger, while Venezuela was not included due to a lack of recent data, he said.

In Afghanistan, FAO and WFP said 3.5 million people are expected to face the second highest level of food insecurity, characterized by acute malnutrition and deaths, from June to November. They said the withdrawal of US and NATO forces as early as August could lead to an escalation of violence, more displaced people and difficulties in the distribution of humanitarian assistance.

In recluse North Korea, which is under harsh UN sanctions, the agencies said “concerns about the food security situation are increasing … due to restricted access and the potential impact of trade constraints, which they can lead to food gaps. ” While the data is “extremely limited,” they said recent figures from the country’s Central Station Office and an FAO analysis “highlight a worrying cereal deficit.”

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