The UN warns of the sharp increase in people affected by famine

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Rome (AFP) – The UN food agency said Monday that the number of people on the brink of famine in 43 countries has risen to 45 million, as acute hunger soars around the world.

The increase from 42 million people at the beginning of the year is largely explained by an assessment that included three million Afghans, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

“Tens of millions of people are peering into the abyss. Conflicts, climate change and COVID-19 are increasing the number of people going hungry,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

“And the latest data shows that there are now more than 45 million people on the brink of starvation,” he said after a trip to Afghanistan, where WFP is increasing its aid to almost 23 million people.

“Fuel costs are rising, food prices are skyrocketing, fertilizers are more expensive, and all of this fuels new crises like the one now unfolding in Afghanistan, as well as long-lasting emergencies like Yemen and Syria.” added.

The WFP said the cost of avoiding famine worldwide now stands at $ 7 billion, up from $ 6.6 billion at the beginning of the year, but warned that traditional forms of financing are saturated.

Families facing acute food insecurity are “forced to make devastating decisions”, marrying children off early, taking them out of school or feeding them insects, wild leaves or cacti.

“Meanwhile, the information from Afghanistan speaks of families that are forced to sell their children in a desperate attempt to survive,” said the official.

Droughts in Afghanistan combine with economic collapse and push families over the edge, while in Syria some 12.4 million people don’t know where their next meal will come from, he explained.

Largest operation since 1961

An increase in hunger is also seen in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya and Burundi, according to the Rome-based UN agency.

WFP, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020, believes that it is experiencing one of the most serious famines in recent history.

For this reason, it decided to launch the most important operation since its foundation in 1961, targeting 139 million people in the 85 countries in which it operates.

It’s about meeting emergency food and nutrition needs, as well as working with partners to build resilience and empower the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

A particularly difficult operation, given that the food price index, compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, this month reached its highest level in ten years.

Added to this is the high price of fuel, which increases transportation costs and weighs on global supply chains: shipping a container cost $ 1,000 a year ago, now it costs $ 4,000 or more, says the WFP.

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The UN warns of the sharp increase in people affected by famine

Hank Gilbert