Food crises threaten millions of families worldwide

Food crises threaten millions of families worldwide

Two UN food agencies issued warnings about several looming food crises on the planet, driven by climate shocks like drought and the effects of the COVID 19 epidemic in Ukraine, which have sent fuel and food prices going up.

The glum assessment came in a report by two Rome-based food agencies, the World Food Program WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO WFP Executive Director David Beasley, said the global food crises threaten to overwhelm millions of families who are just getting by, besides hurting the poorest of the poor.

The situation is much worse now than during the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2007 -- 2008 food price crisis, when 48 countries were rocked by political unrest, riots and protests, Beasley said in a statement. The U.N. agencies warned that war in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in February, has already exacerbated rising food and energy prices worldwide.

The U.N. agencies said that the effects will be particularly acute where economic instability and spiraling prices combine with drops in food production due to climate shocks, such as recurrent droughts or flooding.

East Africa, where the United Nations said an unprecedented drought is afflicting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, is cited as one of the critical areas cited. South Sudan is facing large-scale flooding for a fourth year in a row.

The report said that there were other sobering impacts of climate: above-average rainfall and a risk of localized flooding in the Sahel, a vast swath of Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

There was more intense hurricane season in the Caribbean Sea and below-average rainfall in Afghanistan, cited by it. The Asian country is already suffering from multiple seasons of drought, violence and political upheaval, including after the return of Taliban rule last summer.

The report tagged six nations as the highest alert hot spots facing catastrophic conditions: Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia. It said as many as 750,000 people are facing starvation and death in those countries. There are 400,000 in Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region, the highest number in any country since the 2011 famine in Somalia, the U.N. agencies said.

According to a study by regional health officials, at least 1,900 children under 5 died from malnutrition in the Tigray region in April. Western Tigray, which is under the control of forces from the neighboring Amhara region, was not included in the survey.

The U.N. food agencies said Monday that Congo, Haiti, the Sahel region, Sudan and Syria are of very high concern and that Kenya is a new entry to that list.

The countries that faced continuing food scarcity included Zimbabwe, Benin, Sri Lanka, Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea, Ukraine and Zimbabwe, while areas that faced ongoing food scarcities included Angola, Lebanon, Madagascar and Mozambique.