In Somalia, “hundreds of thousands are already suffering from hunger today, with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under the age of five,” the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) warn.
“Large-scale starvation deaths” are increasingly likely in the East African country, the UN agencies continued, noting that unless “adequate” aid arrives, analysts expect that by December “four children or two adults per 10,000 people will die every day.”
In addition to the emergency that has already unfolded in Somalia, UN agencies have identified 18 more serious “famine hotspots” whose problems have been created by conflict, drought, economic uncertainty, the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Humanitarians are particularly concerned about Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, where a record 970,000 people “are expected to face catastrophic famine and are starving or starving, or at risk of worsening catastrophic conditions unless action is taken.” “, UN agencies said.
That’s 10 times more than six years ago, when only two countries had populations as dangerous as the FAO and WFP noted. the report.
Urgent humanitarian action at scale is needed in all these countries at risk “to save lives and livelihoods” and prevent famine, UN agencies insist.
The harvest of harsh winter
According to FAO and WFP, acute food insecurity worldwide will worsen from October to January.
In addition to Somalia, they stressed that the problem is also severe in the wider Horn of Africa region, where the longest drought in more than 40 years is forecast to continue, pushing people “to the brink of starvation”.
A succession of failed rains has wiped out people’s crops and killed livestock “on which their survival depends,” said FAO director-general Qu Dongyu, who warned that “people in the poorest countries” are most at risk of acute food insecurity, which is “rapidly growing.” . and distributed throughout the world.’
QU FAO calls for massive increase in aid
Vulnerable communities “have not yet recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, are suffering the devastating effects of ongoing conflicts in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, and the climate emergency,” the FAO chief continued.
He insisted that “without a large-scale humanitarian response” to support agriculture, “the situation in many countries is likely to worsen in the coming months.”
Echoing the message, WFP Executive Director David Beasley called for immediate action to prevent loss of life.
“We urgently need help for those who are in serious danger of starvation in Somalia and elsewhere in the world,” he said.
A perfect storm of problems
“This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with devastating famine,” Mr Beasley continued.
“The famine in 2011 was caused by two failed rainy seasons in a row, as well as conflict. Today we are witnessing a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season, resulting in a drought that will last until 2023.”
In addition to skyrocketing food prices, those most at risk of acute food insecurity also have “severely limited options” to earn a living due to the pandemic, the WFP chief explained, as aid teams prepare for famine in Somalia’s Baidoa and Burhakaba in the Bay region, come October.
The joint FAO/WFP report notes that the “highest preparedness” countries identified in the joint FAO/WFP report are Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Sahel, Sudan and Syria. “are of great concern,” in addition to newcomers Central African Republic and Pakistan.
Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi were also added to the list of countries suffering from hunger, joining Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Obstacles to help
Humanitarian aid is critical to saving lives and preventing starvation, death and livelihoods collapse, FAO and WFP insist, while highlighting chronic access challenges caused by “lack of security, administrative and bureaucratic obstacles, restrictions on movement and physical barriers”. in 11 out of 19 hotspot countries.
This includes “all six countries where populations face or are projected to face famine … or are at risk of deteriorating toward catastrophic conditions,” they said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.
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