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World on brink of ‘hunger pandemic’: UN food agency chief

hunger pandmic
NEW YORK: The United Nations food agency has warned the world is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic”  as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action is not taken.
World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the UN Security Council that even before the COVID-19 crisis, he told world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” This was due to the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, he said.
Beasley said 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, a further 135 million people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse.” A new World Food Program analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19, an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”
He said that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.” Beasley, who is recovering from COVID-19, said if those 30 million people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period” and that does not include increased starvation due to the coronavirus.
“In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation,” he said.

According to WFP, the ten countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti. Beasley said the food crisis is the result of conflict in many countries.
The WFP chief said he raised the prospect of “a hunger pandemic” because “there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.” He said lockdowns and economic recession are expected to lead to major income losses for the working poor.
Beasley said WFP has played a major role in tackling COVID-19 by delivering millions of pieces of protective equipment, testing kits and face masks to 78 countries on behalf of the World Health Organization and by running humanitarian air services to get doctors, nurses and humanitarian staff into countries that need help.
He urged greater humanitarian access, coordinated action to deliver aid, an end to trade disruptions, and accelerated and increased funding including $350 million to set up a network of logistics hubs and transport systems to keep supply chains running worldwide.
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