ROME, 10 November 2020 – Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, South Sudan and Burkina Faso are under threat of severe food insecurity that could force them to face famine within three to six months, the United Nations warned over the weekend.
“We are at a catastrophic turning point,” said Margot van de Velden, the director of the United Nations World Food Program (AFP).
Millions of people who were already facing hunger in these countries are on the brink of famine, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) joined the WFP in pointing out Friday.
Their findings are part of the latest edition of Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots report, published by the two U.N, agencies.
The report says 22 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are acutely food insecure – the highest number ever registered by any single country.
In Burkina Faso, the report said the number of hungry people has almost tripled in 2020 compared to 2019.
Parts of South Sudan, where food shortages are the most acute, might become the first place to see a first break of famine since one was last declared in 2017, the U.N. agencies warn.
“When we declare a famine, it means many lives have already been lost,” Velden told reporters Friday.
By the time famine was declared in Somalia in July 2011, Velden explained, as many as 260,000 people had already died from starvation beginning in May of that year.
“When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost
Farmers, fishers, foresters and herders in these countries are among those experience up to 80 percent of acute food insecurity, according to the report.
FAO and WFP blamed the rapidly worsening situation on job losses linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in agricultural activities, a drastic fall in remittances to the most vulnerable families and a skyrocketing of prices of basic needs.
They also blamed it on violent conflict, mass displacement of people, and climate change-related disasters like drought and floods.
Another 16 countries and territories are listed as being at risk of rising levels of acute hunger in the report which calls on developed nations to take urgent action to avoid an international food emergency.