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WFP and FAO identify 23 countries as hot spots of hunger

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WFP and FAO identify 23 countries as hot spots of hunger

By Cecilia Ologunagba

World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say over next four months conflict, COVID-19 and climate crisis are expected to increase hunger in 23 countries .

Ms. Eri Kaneko, associate spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres, said this during a briefing to correspondents at UN headquarters in New York on Friday on a new report released by the two UN agencies.

Kaneko said Ethiopia and Madagascar were the world’s most recent hunger hotspots, according to the report.

“The highest alert list also includes South Sudan, Yemen and northern Nigeria. In parts of these countries, large numbers of people are at risk of starvation.

“The report points to other countries where life-threatening hunger is on the rise. They include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and Syria, ” she said.

According to her, WFP and FAO say humanitarian action is urgently needed to prevent hunger, famine and death in the 23 hotspots.

In a statement, UN agencies warned that efforts to tackle a global increase in acute food insecurity were hampered in several countries by fighting and blockades that cut off life-saving aid to families on the brink of famine. .

“Bureaucratic hurdles as well as a lack of funding also hamper the efforts of the two UN agencies to provide emergency food aid and allow farmers to plant on a large scale and at the right time.

“This is of great concern as the conflict, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the climate crisis are expected to lead to higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots over the next four months,” he said. -he declares.

FAO and WFP have already warned that 41 million people are at risk of starvation if they do not receive immediate food and livelihood assistance.

“2020 saw 155 million people facing acute food insecurity in crisis or at worse levels in 55 countries, and according to the Global Food Crises Report, an increase of more than 20 million from 2019 – and the trend is only expected to worsen this year.

“The vast majority of those on the cusp are farmers. Along with food aid, we must do all we can to help them resume food production on their own, so that families and communities can return to self-sufficiency and not depend solely on aid for survival ” , said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.

“It is difficult without access and without adequate funding – and until now, support for agriculture as a key means to prevent widespread famine unfortunately remains largely ignored by donors.

“Without such support for agriculture, humanitarian needs will continue to skyrocket, it’s inevitable.

“Families who depend on humanitarian aid for survival are hanging by a thread. When we can’t reach them, that thread is cut and the consequences are simply catastrophic, ”warned David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP.

The report points out that conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks – often linked to the economic fallout from COVID-19 – are likely to remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity for the period August-November 2021.

He said cross-border threats were an aggravating factor in some areas, in particular, Desert Locust infestations in the Horn of Africa and African Migratory Locusts in southern Africa require continued surveillance and vigilance.

He said humanitarian access constraints were another serious aggravating factor hampering efforts to curb food crises and prevent famine, death and total collapse of livelihoods, increasing the risk of famine.

“The countries currently facing the greatest obstacles preventing aid from reaching those most in need are Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia , Syria and Yemen.

“The road to Zero Hunger is not paved with conflicts, checkpoints and red tape.

“Humanitarian access is not an abstract concept – it means authorities approve documents on time so food can be moved quickly.

“This means the checkpoints allow trucks to pass and reach their destination, it means humanitarian responders are not targeted so they are able to carry out their vital and vital work,” said Beasley . (NAA)

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