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Conflict, COVID-19, climate change send hunger to 5-year high

Conflict, COVID-19, climate change send hunger to 5-year high

Conflict, pandemic-related economic shocks, and climate change are compounding to send hunger levels in food-insecure countries to a five-year high, according to the 2021 “Global Report on Food Crises.”

An estimated 20 million more people were food insecure in 2020 than in 2019, according to the report, which was produced by the Global Network Against Food Crises — an alliance of development and humanitarian organizations founded by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme, as well as the European Union. The report examines 55 countries and territories that are either receiving international humanitarian assistance to feed people or where there is evidence local capacity is not sufficient to respond to food crises.

“The ... [2021] ‘Global Report on Food Crises’ makes very grim reading. This is reality. … This is what we're facing,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said Wednesday at a virtual launch event. “Conflict continues to remain the driver of hunger emergencies. But the report honestly and clearly provides an insight into how COVID-19 is now aggravating food insecurity with its economic deteriorating impact around the world. And the truth is, there’s a whole lot more pandemic-related pain to come in 2021.”

The report found that using the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, known as IPC, at least 155 million people in 55 countries and territories were classified as facing “Crisis [phase 3] or worse levels” of food insecurity. It also found that 208 million people in 43 countries and territories were in phase 2 — on the brink of experiencing acute hunger. The IPC scale has five phases, the most serious of which is famine.

The report predicts that Yemen and South Sudan will experience famine conditions this year.

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