Conflicts and prolonged crises in a number of Arab states “have seen overall prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) increase from the level of a quarter of a century ago”, the Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nation (FAO) said.
In a recent report, the FAO named Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as suffering from a “PoU increase”.
The report added: “Some 33 million people in Near East and North African region (NENA) are chronically undernourished today, double the number in 1990.”
The region’s PoU rose to 7.5 per cent from 6.6 per cent, according to the FAO’s first NENA Overview of Food Insecurity. “The NENA region, as a whole, has witnessed a serious setback in its fight against hunger,” it said.
“Conflicts and protracted crises are the main drivers of food insecurity in the region,” an FAO official said.
Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for the NENA region, said: “The NENA region currently exhibits the highest number and intensity of conflicts in the world.”
He added: “Over the last few years, 12 NENA countries have witnessed at least one form of instability, including civil unrest, wars or protracted crises.”
According to the report, recent estimates show that the Syrian crisis has left 13.6 million people in critical need of food and agricultural assistance, including 9.8 million in Syria and 3.8 million refugees.
The report also said that the prolonged crisis in Yemen is aggravating food insecurity, 25 per cent of people are considered undernourished in Yemen, with an estimated half of its 24 million population requiring humanitarian assistance at the beginning of 2015.
In Iraq, the report said, the prevalence of undernourishment, which was only eight percent between 1990 and 1992, has risen to 23 per cent currently.