The United Nations on Monday warned that the number of people teetering on the edge of famine in 43 countries has risen to 45 million, with acute hunger assuming alarming proportions.
The World Food Program (WFP), the world body’s food agency, said there has been a three million rise in number of people at the brink of starvation, mostly from crisis-hit Afghanistan.
“Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss. We’ve got conflict, climate change and Covid-19 driving up the numbers of the acutely hungry,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement.
“Fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertilizer is more expensive, and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as longstanding emergencies like Yemen and Syria,” he added, following his visit to Afghanistan.
WFP has estimated the cost of preventing global starvation at around seven billion US dollars, warning that the traditional funding streams were overstretched.
Families on the brink of acute famine are being “forced to make devastating choices,” such as marrying off children in the early ages, forcing them out of school or feeding them with inappropriate food stuff such as locusts, wild leaves or cactus, according to the WFP.
“Meanwhile, media reports from Afghanistan point to families reportedly being forced to sell their children in a desperate attempt to survive,” the agency said.
According to the latest data from WFP, multiple droughts in Afghanistan along with an economic crisis has inflicted damages on people’s livelihood.
Apart from Afghanistan, the number of people hit with famine in Syria has reached more than 12 million, more than any time during the decade-long conflict.
Alarming increase in hunger was also being seen in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya and Burundi, the food agency said, warning that “across the world, 15 million more people are at risk of starvation than was the case before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The WFP is inviting people from around the globe to donate to prevent hunger, writing on the top if its website that “each day 690 million people around the world go to bed on an empty stomach. But your gift means that one less child will be at risk of starvation tonight.”