- The countries that will be most affected are those affected by conflicts, economic crises, and climate change.
- "There could be multiple large famines in just a few months. We don't have time anymore."
- Earlier this month, WFP announced that it would have to cut its humanitarian assistance by half to Yemen due to a lack of funds.
The UN warned Tuesday that a pandemic of the new coronavirus could lead to “major” famines around the world. David Beasley, director of the World Food Program (WFP), points out that urgent steps need to be taken to avoid catastrophes. According to the World Food Crisis Report released by WFP, at least 135 to 250 million people may be starved.
The countries that will be most affected are those affected by conflicts, economic crises, and climate change. Already last year, 61% of the population of South Sudan suffered food shortages due to political unrest. Even before the new virus, food crops in Eastern and Southern Africa were affected by droughts and locusts. This caused serious food crises throughout the continent.
“At the same time while dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” Beasley said. “We need to be wise and swift,” he added. Beasley attended a video conference at the UN Security Council. “There could be multiple large famines in just a few months. We don’t have time anymore.” He also pointed out, “there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”
Catastrophic for Those “Already in the Loop”
WFP senior economist Alifu Hussain said the economic blow from the pandemic could be a catastrophe for millions of people “already in the loop. It’s a blow to millions of people who can’t buy food without wages.” Hussain said that “lockdowns and global recessions are already killing eggs in their nests. A shock like COVID-19 will cause the eggs to roll down. It is necessary to minimize the damage caused by such a catastrophe. ”
Earlier this month, WFP announced that it would have to cut its humanitarian assistance by half to Yemen due to a lack of funds. WFP provides food to 12 million people in Yemen every month, 80% of whom live in areas occupied by the rebel militant Houthi rebels.
Yemen reported its first case of the new coronavirus in April. Supporters have warned that the country’s weakened health system will soon be saturated. Beasley himself has just recovered from COVID-19. At the Security Council video conference, he added, “I’m sorry, but feel free to speak.”
Even in the face of the current global crisis, “we are not afraid of problems that we may face in the future.” Mr. Beasley called this the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. In a report, Mr. Beasley said he was worried that 30 million people or more could die in just a few months if the UN didn’t secure funding or food. However, donor countries are also currently facing significant financial costs due to their COVID-19 crisis.
“It also means resisting the temptation to introduce export bans or import subsidies, which can lead to price hikes and almost always backfire,” Mr Beasley said. First, he acknowledges that securing domestic stockpiles is a priority. He also pointed out that if there is a mess somewhere, it will spread all over the world.
Mr. Beasley’s open warning is, “in any case, each country must take responsibility.” He also said that it is important to cooperate based on facts, not fear.