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UN warns up to 345 million people marching toward starvation

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By Associated Press


UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. food chief warned Thursday that the world is facing “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude,” with up to 345 million people marching toward starvation — and 70 million pushed closer to starvation by the war in Ukraine.

David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, told the U.N. Security Council that the 345 million people facing acute food insecurity in the 82 countries where the agency operates is 2½ times the number of acutely food insecure people before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

He said it is incredibly troubling that 50 million of those people in 45 countries are suffering from very acute malnutrition and are “knocking on famine’s door.”

“What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger,” he said, pointing to rising conflict, the pandemic’s economic ripple effects, climate change, rising fuel prices and the war in Ukraine.

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, Beasley said, soaring food, fuel and fertilizer costs have driven 70 million people closer to starvation.

Despite the agreement in July allowing Ukrainian grain to be shipped from three Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia and continuing efforts to get Russian fertilizer back to global markets, “there is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines this year,” he said. “And in 2023, the current food price crisis could develop into a food availability crisis if we don’t act.”

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, Beasley said, soaring food, fuel and fertilizer costs have driven 70 million people closer to starvation.

Despite the agreement in July allowing Ukrainian grain to be shipped from three Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia and continuing efforts to get Russian fertilizer back to global markets, “there is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines this year,” he said. “And in 2023, the current food price crisis could develop into a food availability crisis if we don’t act.”

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24, Beasley said, soaring food, fuel and fertilizer costs have driven 70 million people closer to starvation.

Despite the agreement in July allowing Ukrainian grain to be shipped from three Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia and continuing efforts to get Russian fertilizer back to global markets, “there is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines this year,” he said. “And in 2023, the current food price crisis could develop into a food availability crisis if we don’t act.”

Beasley said the Ukraine war is stoking inflation in Yemen, which is 90% reliant on food imports. The World Food Program hopes to provide aid to about 18 million people, but its costs have risen 30% this year to $2.6 billion. As a result, it has been forced to cut back, so Yemenis this month are getting only two-thirds of their previous rations, he said.

Beasley said South Sudan faces “its highest rate of acute hunger since its independence in 2011” from Sudan. He said 7.7 million people, over 60% of the population, are “facing critical or worse levels of food insecurity.” Without a political solution to escalating violence and substantial spending on aid programs, “many people in South Sudan will die,” he warned.