Number of people without enough to eat reaches all-time high in 2021 – UN

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The United Nations on Wednesday said 2021 saw an all-time high on the number of people without enough to eat on a daily basis due to a “toxic triple combination” of conflict, weather extremes, and the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The world body said 2022 is projected not to get any better as hunger is poised to hit “appalling” new levels as the Ukraine war affects global food production.

Almost 193 million people in 53 countries suffered acute food insecurity in 2021 and the total number of people without adequate food every day increased by 40 million, confirming a “worrisome trend” of annual increases over several years.

The figures appeared in the Global Report on Food Crisis, which is produced jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the European Union.

Countries experiencing protracted conflicts, including Afghanistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, had the most food-insecure populations, according to the report.

The report forecasts that Somalia will face one of the world’s worst food crises in 2022 due to prolonged drought, increasing food prices and persistent violence. The various factors could lead 6 million Somalis into acute food crisis, the UN said.

“Today, if more is not done to support rural communities, the scale of the devastation in terms of hunger and lost livelihoods will be appalling,” the UN said. “Urgent humanitarian action is needed on a massive scale to prevent that from happening.”

The war in Ukraine poses further risks for Somalia and many other African countries that reply on Ukraine and Russia for wheat, fertilizer and other food supplies.

The United Nations previously said the war was helping to send prices for commodities such as grains and vegetable oils to record highs, threatening millions with hunger and malnourishment.

“When we look at the consequences of what’s happening as a result of the war in Ukraine, there is real cause for concern of how this will amplify the acute food needs that exist in these food crisis countries,” said Rein Paulsen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s office of emergencies and resilience.

The report called for greater investment in agriculture and appealed for US$1.5 billion to help farmers in at-risk regions with the upcoming planting season to help stabilize and increase local food production. (Source: AP News)

 

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