With an estimated one person dying of hunger every four seconds, 238 local and international non-governmental organizations are calling on leaders gathered at the 77th UN General Assembly to take decisive action to end the growing crisis world hunger.
Dying of Hunger
Organizations from 75 countries have signed an open letter expressing outrage at skyrocketing levels of hunger and recommendations for action. A staggering 345 million people now experience acute hunger, a number that has more than doubled since 2019.
In an open letter to world leaders gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, 238 organizations from 75 countries, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Plan International, expressed their outrage at skyrocketing levels of hunger.
“Despite promises by world leaders never to allow famine in the 21st century, famine is once again imminent in Somalia. Worldwide, 50 million people are on the verge of starvation in 45 countries,” they said.
Noting that up to 19,700 people are estimated to die of hunger every day, the NGOs said this translates to one person dying of hunger every four seconds.
“It is abysmal that with all the technology in agriculture and harvesting techniques today we are still talking about famine in the 21st century,” Mohanna Ahmed Ali Eljabaly of the Yemen Family Care Association, one of the letter’s signatories, said in the statement.
Food insecurity is increasing rapidly
Some 45 million people, in 19 hotspots on the planet, are in a situation of acute hunger and need urgent assistance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a new report released on Wednesday.
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu warned that “acute food insecurity is increasing rapidly and spreading throughout the world. Without a massively scaled-up humanitarian response, the situation is likely to worsen in many countries in the coming months.”
“People in the poorest countries that have not yet recovered from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic are suffering the effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency,” Qu added.
Drought is suffered longest on record
The report, prepared by the FAO together with the World Food Program (WFP), indicates that the situation may worsen between October 2022 and January 2023, and drew attention again to the area of the Horn of Africa, where drought is suffered longest on record in more than 40 years.
An estimated 970,000 people face catastrophic hunger, meaning they may starve to death, in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, if no action is taken beyond six years ago, when just two countries had populations in the so-called Phase 5.
The FAO and the WFP use the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), with a scale in which F1 registers capacity to meet needs, F2 minimum consumption, F3 crisis, F4 emergency and F5 famine.
Countries with worrying hotspots
The report ” Hungry Hotspots: FAO and WFP Early Warnings on Acute Food Insecurity ” focuses on 19 areas that correspond in Asia to areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen, in the Caribbean to Haiti, and in Africa to countries immediately south of the Sahara and in the centre of the continent.
They are Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
But other countries with worrying hotspots are Guatemala and Honduras in Central America: Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe in Africa, and Sri Lanka in Asia.
Up to 26 million people are feared to be facing crisis levels or worse (IPC Phase 3 and above) in Somalia, southern and eastern Ethiopia, and northern and eastern Kenya.
300,000 people very close to starvation
David Beasley, executive director of the WFP, drew attention to Somalia – where 300,000 people are very close to starvation -, because “we are facing a perfect storm: a probable fifth consecutive unsuccessful rainy season that will cause a drought that will last until well into 2023.”
Without an adequate humanitarian response, analysts expect that, by December, as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people will die each day. Hundreds of thousands already face hunger and “staggering levels of malnutrition” are expected among children under five.
In total, of the 828 million people who go to bed hungry in the world, some 222 million are in a situation of acute food insecurity in 53 countries, and the most worrying situation reaches 45 million in 37 of those nations.
Violent conflict remains the main driver of acute hunger and analysis indicates a continuation of this trend in 2022, with particular concern for Ethiopia, where intensifying conflict and inter-ethnic violence in several regions are expected to escalate further.
Extreme weather events such as floods, tropical storms and droughts remain critical factors in many parts of the world, and a “new normal” of back-to-back extreme weather events is becoming apparent, especially in hotspots.
Devastating floods have affected 33 million people this year in Pakistan alone, and South Sudan is facing a fourth consecutive year of extreme flooding, while a third consecutive season of below-average rains is projected in Syria.
On the economic front, persistently high global prices for food, fuel, and fertilizer continue to drive high domestic prices and economic instability, a situation exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
The report insists that humanitarian assistance is crucial to saving lives and preventing hunger, death and the total collapse of livelihoods, and highlights the limitations, bureaucratic and of movement, for first responders to reach various countries with food aid of the countries most affected by hunger.
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