United Nations – Hunger is expected to increase in 23 hotspots around the world in the next three months, and the places with the highest alerts for “catastrophic” situations will be the troubled region of Tigray, in Ethiopia; southern Madagascar; Yemen; South Sudan, and northern Nigeria, two UN agencies warned on Friday.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) said in a new report on hotspots between August and November that “acute food insecurity could continue to deteriorate ”.
Both agencies topped their list with Ethiopia, saying the number of people facing hunger and death is expected to rise to 401,000 – the highest number since the 2011 famine in Somalia – if humanitarian assistance does not arrive quickly.
In southern Madagascar, a nation that has been ravaged by the worst drought in the last 40 years, pests affect crops and food have increased in price, as a result of which 14,000 people are expected to become food insecure by September acute and “catastrophic”, characterized by starvation and death. The number is expected to double by the end of the year, and those 28,000 people will need urgent help, the two agencies said.
In a report for May, 16 organizations, including FAO and WFP, said that at least 155 million people faced acute hunger in 2020, an increase of 20 million from 2019. The figure included 133,000 people in urgent need of food to prevent them from dying.
“Acute hunger is increasing not only in scale, but also in severity,” FAO and WFP said in Friday’s report. “In total, more than 41 million people in the world are in danger of falling into hunger or conditions similar to hunger, unless they receive immediate assistance to survive and for their subsistence.”
Both Rome-based agencies called for urgent humanitarian action to save lives at the 23 hotspots, noting that assistance is especially crucial for the five places with the highest alert to prevent famine and death.
“This deterioration in trends is mainly due to the dynamics of conflicts, as well as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said. “These include spikes in food prices, movement restrictions that limit market and grazing activities alike, rising inflation, declining purchasing power, and an early and long inter-harvest season.”
According to FAO and WFP, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria remain at the highest alert level, with Ethiopia joining them for the first time, due to Tigray, as well as southern Madagascar.
In South Sudan, they said, “famine most likely occurred in parts of Pibor county between October and November 2020, and is expected to continue due to the absence of sustained and timely humanitarian assistance.”
“In Yemen, the risk of more people facing hunger-like conditions may have been contained, but progress remains extremely fragile,” UN agencies said. “In Nigeria, populations in conflict-affected areas in the northeast could be at risk of reaching catastrophic levels of food insecurity.”
Nine other countries also have high numbers of people facing “critical food insecurity,” coupled with exacerbating factors that cause famine. These are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Central African Republic, Sudan and Syria, the report notes.
Six countries were added to the hot spots list since the agencies’ March report: Chad, Colombia, North Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua. Three other countries facing acute food insecurity are Somalia, Guatemala and Niger.
Venezuela was not included due to a lack of recent information, according to the document.