The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme David Beasley, on Thursday told the UN Security Council that 345 million people are facing acute food insecurity in the 82 countries.
The Security Council was focusing on conflict-induced food insecurity and the risk of famine in Ethiopia, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.
Beasley also said 70 million are pushed closer to starvation by the war in Ukraine, noted where the agency operates is more than twice the number of acutely food insecure people before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
“What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger,” pointing to rising conflict, the pandemic’s economic ripple effects, climate change, rising fuel prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
The UN World Food Programme David Beasley and UN humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths also warned about the food crisis in Somalia, which they both recently visited, and Griffiths also put Afghanistan high on the list.
The UN food chief 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”.
Beasley added that the Ukraine war is stoking inflation in Yemen, which is 90 percent reliant on food imports. The World Food Programme hopes to provide aid to about 18 million people, but its costs have risen 30 percent this year to $2.6bn.
“In northeast Nigeria, the UN projects that 4.1 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity, including 588,000 who faced emergency levels between June and August, Griffiths said. Almost half of those people could not be reached because of insecurity, and the UN fears “some people may already be at the level of catastrophe and already dying”.
Griffiths urged the Security Council to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to end these conflicts, and to step up financing for humanitarian operations, saying UN appeals in those four countries are all “well below half of the required funding”.
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