Up to 345 million people are on the verge of hunger, the UN warns.

Up to 345 million people may be on the verge of hunger, with 70 million of those people being pushed over the edge by the conflict in Ukraine, the U.N. food chief warned on Thursday.

According to David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, 345 million people in the 82 nations where the organization operates are extremely food insecure, which is 212 times more people than there were before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020.

He stated that the fact that 50 million of those individuals live in 45 different nations and are “knocking on famine’s door” is quite alarming.

What was once a wave of hunger has become a tsunami of hunger, he declared, citing escalating warfare, the economic repercussions of the pandemic, climate change, rising fuel costs, and the situation in the Ukraine.

“Famine will happen in Somalia,” Griffiths said, and “be sure it won’t be the only place either.”

He cited recent assessments that identified “hundreds of thousands of people facing catastrophic levels of hunger,” meaning they are at the worst “famine” level.

Beasley recalled his warning to the council in April 2020 “that we were then facing famine, starvation of biblical proportions.” He said then the world “stepped up with funding and tremendous response, and we averted catastrophe.”

“We are on the edge once again, even worse, and we must do all that we can — all hands on deck with every fiber of our bodies,” he said. “The hungry people of the world are counting on us, and … we must not let them down.”

According to Griffiths, conflict and violence’s direct and indirect effects, including the displacement of families from the land they depend on for food and income, economic decline, and rising food prices that they cannot afford, are to blame for the widespread and escalating food insecurity. Conflict and violence kill and injure civilians.

In Yemen, he claimed, “some 19 million people — six out of ten — are highly food insecure, an estimated 160,000 people are facing catastrophe, and 538,000 children are chronically malnourished” as a result of the country’s more than seven-year civil war.

Beasley claimed that the crisis in Ukraine is causing inflation in Yemen, which depends 90% on food imports. Around 18 million people are in need of assistance, while the World Food Program’s costs have increased by 30%.

As a result, it has been forced to cut back, so Yemenis this month are getting only two-thirds of their previous rations, he said.

Beasley said South Sudan faces “its highest rate of acute hunger since its independence in 2011” from Sudan.

More than 60% of the population, or 7.7 million people, are “suffering critical or worse levels of food insecurity,” according to him. He cautioned that “many people in South Sudan would die” in the absence of a political response to the violence’s escalation and significant funding for assistance initiatives.

More than 13 million people in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions of northern Ethiopia require food that can save their lives, according to Griffiths. In June, a survey conducted in Tigray revealed that 89% of the population experienced food insecurity, “more than half of them severely so.”

Beasley claimed that a truce in March made it possible for the World Food Program and its partners to reach nearly 5 million people in the Tigray region, but that recent conflict has returned and “threatens to push many hungry, tired families over the edge.”

According to U.N. estimates, 4.1 million people in northeast Nigeria experience high levels of food insecurity, including 588,000 who experienced emergency levels between June and August, according to Griffiths. The U.N. is concerned that “some individuals may already be at the level of catastrophe and already dying,” he added, adding that over half of those people couldn’t be reached due to insecurity.

Griffiths urged the Security Council to increase money for humanitarian operations and to “leave no stone unturned” in efforts to put an end to these conflicts, noting that U.N. appeals in all four of those countries “are all considerably below half of the required funds.”

SOURCE AFRICA NEWS

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