The head of the UN food agency has warned that, as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken.
World Food Programme executive director David Beasley told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that even before Covid-19 became an issue, he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II”. That’s because of wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, he said.
Beasley said 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world today, and a new WFP analysis shows that as a result of Covid-19, an additional 130 mn people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”
He said WFP is providing food to nearly 100 mn people on any given day, including “about 30 mn people who literally depend on us to stay alive”. Beasley, who is himself recovering from Covid-19, said if those 30mn people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period” – and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation.” he said.