The year 2022 was a year of instability for the whole world. This was the year when the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist organization Taliban re-captured India’s neighboring nation: Afghanistan. In the same year, the war between Ukraine and Russia, with worldwide speculations of World War III. Apart from this, many countries like Sudan, Syria, Congo, Ethiopia, and Yemen faced instability due to natural calamities, war, and other conflicts. Due to this, a large number of people lost their lives, and the food security of a large part of the world’s population was in danger.
Food Security Crisis
According to the Global Report on Food Crisis (GRFC) 2023 released by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) on Wednesday, May 3, 258 million people in 58 countries/territories have faced severe food crisis in the year 2022 (IPC/CH Phase 3-5). This figure is the highest in the last 7 years. Significantly, for the year 2021, this figure was 193 million. In the foreword to the report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote,
“More than a quarter of the population is facing acute level of hunger. Some of these people are on the verge of starvation. This is so embarrassing.”
According to the report, the Republic of Congo has the highest number of people (22.6 million) suffering from this crisis. Whereas in Afghanistan this crisis has reached the level of humanitarian emergency. About 6.1 million people of this country are facing hunger at an alarming level (IPC/CH Phase 4).
Asian Landscape of crisis
The 5 countries of Asia have been included in this report. Apart from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, and Pakistan’s Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh provinces, all other regions are part of this report. According to the report, 51.3 million people in Asia are facing a food crisis. It is also a matter of concern that out of these 28.52 million people are from only 2 countries Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The condition is worst in Afghanistan. Almost half (46%) of the people here are struggling to feed themselves. The report states that after returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban has worsened the condition of Afghanistan. The Taliban government has not made enough efforts to increase foreign exchange since coming to power. Due to which the import of food grains and other essential goods in this country has been badly affected. As a result, the prices of food grains, fuel and fertilizers have increased wildly in Afghanistan.
However, one of the main reasons for this condition was the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan by America and other countries. In a statement released in August 2022, Human Rights Watch said that,
Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be resolved until sanctions imposed on Afghanistan’s banking sector by the United States and other countries are replaced by essential economic activities and humanitarian aid.
In one of his articles published in Aljazeera, Afghanistan’s interim foreign minister Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaki said that he is ready to work with America but first they have to lift the sanctions.
Apart from this, the weather in Afghanistan made the situation worse. According to the report, 25 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan faced severe or worse drought. Similarly, floods caused by unseasonal rains between July and September spoiled the crops of 21 provinces even before harvesting.
Last year Sri Lanka faced a terrible economic crisis. This crisis arose due to the decreasing value of the currency and increasing inflation, which directly affected the fuel reserves of the country. Due to a lack of foreign currency, there was a fuel crisis in Sri Lanka. Hence, the prices of all essential commodities including grains reached the sky. This was the reason that Sri Lanka’s annual food price inflation rate was the highest (64 %) among the five countries last year.
For the people of Sri Lanka, every day of the past year seemed as long as a year. Feeding their children became the biggest challenge for the families. According to a survey conducted by Save the Children, more than half of the families in Sri Lanka have reduced the amount of food their children eat. The situation is so bad that 9 out of 10 families are unable to provide nutritious food to their children.
Bangladesh and Myanmar
According to the United States Institute of Peace, more than 950,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar. These people are victims of displacement in Myanmar in the year 2017. According to the Food Crisis Report, conflict and instability in Bangladesh and Myanmar have been the main reason for food insecurity. About 16.5 million people in both countries are affected by the hunger crisis due to displacement, instability, and restrictions on moving from one place to another. Apart from this, the sudden floods in Myanmar have also affected the people in Bangladesh.
Pakistan is known for its political instability. Its effect also falls on the general public here and all their needs. But in the year 2022, Pakistan faced the worst flood ever. According to the report, floods and landslides occurred due to rains that were 3 times more than in the last 30 years in Pakistan, affecting about 33 million people. According to UNICEF, 9.6 million children were in need of humanitarian assistance during this period. Apart from floods, heat waves in March and April 2022 caused heavy damage to the rabi crop. According to the report, 8.6 million people are facing IPC Phase 3 level of food insecurity due to these natural calamities.
Looking at the data of the report, it is known that the year 2022 was the fourth consecutive year when the number of people facing food insecurity has increased. In Asia, 2 countries (Afghanistan and Bangladesh) are included in this report almost every year. According to the data received from these countries, the number of people facing hunger crisis has increased from 8.6 million in 2022 to 21.1 million in 2021. If the report is to be believed then there is no possibility of getting relief in the coming days.
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