The United Nations has requested $6.6 billion in aid to assist 41 million people who are on the verge of starvation as the world faces unprecedented catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity.
To increase support, the UN convened a high-level event, calling for international action in collaboration with the Group of Friends on Action on Conflict and Hunger before it is too late.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Programme organized the virtual event (WFP).
Participants reviewed recent efforts to stop the spread of famine and famine risk. Furthermore, the international community discussed urgent actions that must be taken in order to prevent deterioration in the global severity and scale of acute food insecurity.
UN figures estimate that more than 500,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, formerly referred to as Phase 5 through Integrated Phase Classification (IPC).
“In recent months, vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso and Nigeria have also been subjected to these same conditions.
“In addition, 41 million people worldwide face emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 4), only one slip away from the edge of famine, representing a 50 per cent increase in just two years.
“Millions more are experiencing crisis levels of acute food insecurity (IPC 3) and are at real risk of rapid deterioration. ‘’
As the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs opened the event, he said, “when famine finally opens a door, it goes viral in a way that perhaps other threats do not.”
“The situation is the result of “a toxic mix of economic decline, climate change, COVID-19 and of course, most importantly, conflict driving this terrible scourge, with women and girls, as always, left particularly vulnerable.”
“Women tell us of the desperate measures they must take to find food to feed their families, including trading sex for food, resorting to early and child marriages, as I was hearing when I was in Syria quite recently,” he said.
Griffith thanked donors and said that the UN agency has been able to increase humanitarian reaches in more high-risk countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Yemen, where it currently reaches 10 million people every month.
However, he stated that it is time for the world to redouble its efforts and show that it can overcome this challenge collectively
“There is time, not much, and we need it to happen.’’
The Director-General of FAO, Qu Dongyu, also spoke at the event. For him, “food and livelihood assistance must be given in tandem.”
“Supporting agri-food systems and providing long-term assistance, lays the path to recovery, beyond just survival, and increases resilience. I thank Members for their support. There’s no time to waste,” he said.
David Beasley, Executive Director of World Food Programme, emphasized the need to get the message out, saying world leaders “will respond” when they know the truth.
According to Beasley, there is $400 trillion in wealth in the world today and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, billionaires averaged a net worth increase of 5.2 billion dollars a day.
“And the fact that we’re sitting here begging for 6.6 billion dollars to save 41 million people, and to keep nations from destabilising, and to prevent mass migration…I don’t know what in the world I’m missing.
“It’s a disgrace that we’re having this conversation,” he said.
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