UN: Climate shocks and war are fueling multiple looming food crises

ROME — Two United Nations food agencies on Monday issued stark warnings of multiple looming food crises on the planet, caused by climate “shocks” like drought and compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine that have caused fuel and food prices to skyrocket.

The grim assessment came in a report from two Rome-based food agencies: the World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

WFP Executive Director David Beasley said that as well as hurting “the poorest of the poor”, global food crises threaten to overwhelm millions of barely coping families.

“Conditions are now much worse than during the Arab Spring in 2011 and the food price crisis of 2007-2008, when 48 countries were rocked by political unrest, riots and protests,” Beasley said in a statement. . He cited as “just the tip of the iceberg” the food crises in Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru and Sri Lanka.

The report calls for urgent humanitarian action to help “hunger hotspots” where acute hunger is expected to worsen over the coming months.

UN agencies are also warning that the war in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in February, has exacerbated the already steady rise in food and energy prices around the world.

“The effects are expected to be particularly acute where economic instability and soaring prices combine with declines in food production due to climatic shocks such as recurrent droughts or floods,” the joint statement from the agencies of the United Nations said. ‘UN.

Among the critical areas cited is East Africa, where the United Nations has said “unprecedented” drought is afflicting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. South Sudan, meanwhile, is facing a fourth straight year of large-scale flooding.

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

He also cited a more intense hurricane season in the Caribbean and below-average rainfall in Afghanistan. This Asian country is already suffering from several seasons of drought, violence and political upheaval, including after the return of the Taliban regime last summer.

The report identified six countries as “highest alert” hotspots facing catastrophic conditions: Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia. He said as many as 750,000 people face starvation and death in these countries. Of those, 400,000 are in Ethiopia’s beleaguered Tigray region – the highest number in any country since the 2011 famine in Somalia, UN agencies said.

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

The UN food agencies report said on Monday that Congo, Haiti, the Sahel region, Sudan and Syria remain “of serious concern” and noted that Kenya was a new entry on that list.

Sri Lanka, Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea, Ukraine and Zimbabwe joined the list of hotspot countries, while regions facing persistent food shortages included Angola, Lebanon, Madagascar and Mozambique.

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Follow all AP stories about the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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