Famine at the door: UN agency sees 41 million people at risk globally

Web DeskWeb Editor

25th Jun, 2021. 04:38 pm
Famine at the door

UNITED NATIONS: The World Food Programme (WFP), a Rome-based United Nations (UN) agency, warned that famine could become a reality for millions of people around the world, without urgent funding to stave off a catastrophe, and without access to families cut-off by conflict.

“I am heartbroken at what we’re facing in 2021. We now have four countries where famine-like conditions are present,” WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley said while addressing WFP’s Executive Board.

“Meanwhile 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door. If you look at the numbers, it’s just tragic – these are real people with real names. I am extremely concerned,” he warned.

He described the situation as “just tragic”, as “these are real people with real names.”

584,000 people are already experiencing famine-like conditions in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, The WFP stated.

Nigeria and Burkina Faso are also of particular concern as they have pockets where famine-like conditions are present.
“In Somalia in 2011, 260,000 people died of hunger – and by the time the famine was actually declared – half of that number had already died,” Beasley recalled. “We can’t debate the numbers to death when people need our help now.”

Hunger has risen due to conflict, climate change and economic shocks, the WFP said. However, soaring prices for basic foods have also compounded the situation, with the global cost of maize rising almost 90 per cent year-on-year, for example.

In many countries, currency depreciation is also a factor, the agency added. This has driven prices even higher, stoking food insecurity in places such as Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The WFP said it is this year mounting its biggest operation ever, targeting 139 million people. With sufficient funding and access, the agency said it can provide them with lifesaving food and nutritional assistance.

Beasley underlined the urgent need for support.

He said, “I want to emphasize just how bad it is out there. Today, 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door. The price tag to reach them is about $6 billion. We need funding and we need it now.”

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