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Monday, May 20, 2024

FAO report “stinging indictment” of failure to end world hunger: UN chief


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Rome: A new report on global food insecurity is “a stinging indictment” of humanity’s failure to end hunger, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

Around 258 million people in 58 countries faced “acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels” in 2022, according to the latest “Global Report on Food Crises,” released Wednesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This figure was up from 193 million people in 53 countries a year earlier.

The number of people experiencing severe food insecurity has also risen for the fourth consecutive year, the report said.

“More than a quarter of a billion people are now facing acute levels of hunger, and some are on the brink of starvation. That’s unconscionable,” Guterres wrote in the report’s foreword. “This seventh edition of the Global Report on Food Crises is a stinging indictment of humanity’s failure to make progress towards (the) Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger and achieve food security and improved nutrition for all.”

The FAO said economic shocks had surpassed conflict as the main global driver behind severe food insecurity and malnutrition. “Cumulative global economic shocks” contributing to food security included rising food prices and market disruptions, the report said.

Nevertheless, the FAO found that the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had an adverse impact on global food security, due in part to the significant contributions both countries have traditionally made to the production of key food commodities including wheat, corn, and sunflower oil.

Extreme weather was also a major driver of global food insecurity, according to the report.

The worst-hit countries in the world were clustered in Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. More than 40 percent of the global population suffering from significant food insecurity was in just five countries: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Yemen.

In seven countries, populations suffered from what the FAO called “starvation and destitution, or catastrophe levels of acute hunger” — the most severe level of food insecurity — with more than half in Somalia alone. Other countries with populations in that category are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen. Haiti appeared on this list for the first time, the FAO said.

According to 2023 projections available for 38 of the 58 countries, as many as 153 million people will suffer from “acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels” this year.

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