By Cecilia Ologunagba
According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), 41 million people around the world are on the brink of famine and the slightest shock could tip them over.
WFP spokesperson Phiri Tomson said on Friday that the impact of old and new conflicts, climate shocks and COVID-19, in addition to a lack of funding, had left millions more on the brink. famine than six months ago.
In a $ 5 billion appeal to avert famine, Tomson said millions of refugees faced uncertainty and hunger as the pandemic’s impact on emergency aid budgets grew. clearer.
He said WFP was working around the clock to prevent famine, saying: “We urgently need $ 5.5 billion to do this.
“The price to pay for doing nothing to address these growing hunger needs will inevitably be measured in terms of lives lost.
“Unfortunately, by the time a famine is declared, it is already too late and thousands of people are already starving.
Yemen and South Sudan face catastrophic levels of acute hunger, according to the Hunger Hotspots report released by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The most recent integrated food security phase classification analysis for the Tigray region of Ethiopia, released in June, found that 5.5 million people there faced high levels of acute food insecurity. , 350,000 of whom were already facing “catastrophic” conditions.
“According to the latest IPC food insecurity assessments – which aid workers have used to assess needs on a scale of one to five – the 41 million people are in IPC phase 4 – emergency,” he said. explained the spokesperson for PAM.
The new influxes of refugees linked to conflict and drought have increased the needs of people in “IPC phase 5 – disaster” and “that number stands at 584,000 people.”
“These are people from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Madagascar, especially in the southern part; South Sudan, especially since we are now at the height of the lean season in this country, and in Yemen, ”said Tomson.
By launching its Global Operational Response Plan, the UN agency highlighted operations in no less than eight countries and regions where it had to make “brutal choices” due to significant funding gaps.
In practice, this has resulted in reduced rations “throughout East and Southern Africa, as well as the Middle East… among some of the most vulnerable people in the world who depend on WFP for survival.
“In some cases it’s 40 percent, in some cases it’s 25 percent, in some cases it’s 60 percent.
“The point is, the assistance we provide is a basic need, the assistance we provide is just enough to help people get by,” he said.
For many vulnerable aid recipients in West and Central Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic has left them unable to work to supplement their rations and unable to afford increasingly expensive staple foods.
“Countries like Chad, Niger and Burkina, Mauritania; these are all countries of concern, including Sierra Leone as well, ”said Tomson, after a warning from the UN agency that the world was no longer heading towards Zero Hunger.
“Progress is stalled, reversed, and today it is estimated that more than 270 million people are acutely food insecure or at high risk in 2021.
“But what are the factors at play, why is famine itself a problem in a 21st century world where food is plentiful, and how can it ultimately be recorded in history,” the spokesperson asked. of WFP. (NAA)