The United Nations’ Food Chief has warned that up to 345 million people around the world could face starvation and famine as part of a “global emergency”, particularly in developing nations where food insecurity is already rife.
Speaking to the UN Security Council (UNSC) this week, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, stated that the world is facing “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude”.
Of that 345 million, he clarified that 50 million within 45 countries are already suffering from very acute malnutrition and are “knocking on famine’s door”.
According to Beasley, “What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger”, with a number of factors having contributed to the issue, such as rising conflict, climate catastrophes, rising prices of necessities and fuel and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the lockdowns and measures that ensued, also had a major impact, he said, with the 345 million representing a two and a half times increase of those who faced acute food insecurity prior to those events and their damage to global supply chains.
The crisis is reportedly worsening despite the deal struck between Ukraine, Russia, Turkiye and the UN in July, which enabled Ukrainian grain shipments to resume exports from Black Sea ports, as well as the resumption of Russian fertiliser exports. “There is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines this year,” Beasley stressed. “And in 2023, the current food price crisis could develop into a food availability crisis if we don’t act.”
Referring again to the pandemic and the worldwide mobilisation efforts to contain the spread of the virus, the WFP Head said that the world “stepped up with funding and tremendous response, and we averted catastrophe.” He insisted the world is “on the edge once again, even worse, and we must do all that we can …The hungry people of the world are counting on us.”
According to the UNSC, Beasley, and UN Humanitarian Chief, Martin Griffiths, the countries most at risk of famine are Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Urging the UNSC to “leave no stone unturned” in attempting to end conflicts in those nations, Griffiths also emphasised the necessity to increase funding for humanitarian operations, saying UN appeals in the first four countries listed are “well below half of the required funding”.