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Global hunger is on the rise, study finds

29 March 2018


Dependent on handouts: a Somalian, Habiba Isaak, who is 21 and the mother of four, holds her ration card in the refugee camp of Kabasa, this month. She is one of about five million Somalians who are reliant on humanitarian aid

Dependent on handouts: a Somalian, Habiba Isaak, who is 21 and the mother of four, holds her ration card in the refugee camp of Kabasa, this month. Sh...

MILLIONS more people this year are facing severe hunger caused by new and worsening conflicts, a study that measures levels of food insecurity and cases of malnutrition around the world has found.

Last year, 124 million people in 51 countries faced crisis levels of hunger, compared with 108 million people in 48 countries in 2016, and 80 million in 2015, Global Report on Food Crises by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) says. It projects that the figures will rise yet further in 2018.

FSIN is a global project sponsored by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

In 60 per cent of countries named in the report, conflict was the driver for the food crisis, including the new conflict in Myanmar, which has led to an exodus of Rohingya Muslims; and intensifying conflicts in Yemen, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Yemen is expected to be the biggest food crisis in the world “by far” in 2018: 17 million people, 60 per cent of the population, are already in crisis. Yemen has been devastated by civil war between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. More than two million people have been displaced since 2015, and it is projected to remain “the world’s most concerning food crisis”, the report says.

New countries that made it into the list of those facing food insecurity in 2017 include Ukraine, Palestine, and Pakistan.

The four most severe food crises of the past 12 months occurred in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia. Although humanitarian assistance to these countries more than doubled, nearly one third of the necessary humanitarian aid was not forthcoming, the report says.

The other main factor for food crisis is climate disaster, such as the recurrent drought in the Horn of Africa, the flooding across South Asia, and the hurricanes that struck the Caribbean.

Children are some of the worst-affected by hunger and malnutrition. Worldwide, nearly 52 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, and a further 17 million are severely malnourished, the report says.

“The consequences of conflict and climate change are stark: millions more people severely, even desperately, hungry. The fighting must stop now and the world must come together to avert these crises often happening right in front of our eyes,” the executive director of the WFP, David Beasley, said.

Eritrea, North Korea, and Venezuela are also reported to be areas of concern, but a lack of data has made it difficult to estimate the number of people left hungry in these countries.

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