Rising global food insecurity alarming

A mother sits with her children as they wait for lunch to be served at a makeshift migrant center, in the North-Western Bosnian town of Bihac, on May 31, 2018. Bosnia, one of Europe's poorest countries, is so ill-equipped to cope with a surging influx of

It is time the international community acted resolutely to tackle the global food insecurity crisis. According to the World Food Programme’s Global Report on Food Crises 2018, an estimated 124 million people in 51 countries are facing “crisis food insecurity or worse” and are therefore in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Of these, nearly 32 million people were from a handful of countries: Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan. Worryingly, food insecurity is growing at a rapid pace. The 2017 report had identified 108 million people who are “crisis food insecure or worse” across 48 countries. A comparison of 45 countries that figure in both the 2017 and 2018 reports reveals an increase of 11 million people, that is, an 11% increase in the number of food-insecure people worldwide. The 2018 report identifies conflict and climate change as the primary drivers of food insecurity. New or protracted conflicts triggered food insecurity in 18 countries, where nearly 74 million people are food-insecure, the report says. As for climate-related factors, drought was found to be a major trigger of food crises in 23 countries, with over 39 million food-insecure people in need of urgent help. Africa bore the brunt of the food insecurity crisis in 2017. The situation in South Asia is almost as grave. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are estimated to have between 7-9.9 million and 1-2.99 million food-insecure people, respectively, and Pakistan is listed as a “country of concern”.

Food insecurity is not just about hunger and starvation. It results in malnutrition, anaemia and impacts physical and mental development. It thus impacts the health and well-being of people as well as their capacity to play, learn and earn a livelihood. So long as food insecurity is not addressed, the world will not be able to meet several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 deadline. Improving food security will in turn be possible only if armed conflict is reduced and climate change addressed more robustly.

Unfortunately, major powers impose sanctions and other restrictions on other countries, deepening their food insecurity. This is the case with Yemen, for instance, which has the largest food crisis by far. Over 10 million Yemenis suffer from severe food insecurity. The Saudi and UAE-led coalition’s military assault on Yemen must be blamed for this. Indeed, this coalition’s strategy is aimed at destroying Yemen’s food production and distribution. Such deliberate destruction of access to food is a crime against humanity but the international community is silent. Pious words to reduce food insecurity aren’t enough. Humanitarian assistance, accompanied by robust strategies to end war and address climate change, is necessary. Governments systematically restricting food access to people must be tried for crimes against humanity.

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Rising global food insecurity alarming


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