Hunger threatens millions
Food insecurity is rising in 20 countries and regions – the so-called “hunger hotspots” – where conflict, economic shocks, natural hazards, political instability and restricted humanitarian access put millions of lives at risk. According to the Hunger Hotspots Report by the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen are the countries where the situation is of particular concern. In all four countries there are areas where people are suffering from hunger and death or are acutely threatened by it.
The report also argues that the links between hunger and conflict are complex and far-reaching. In fact, many of those affected are fleeing conflict and have been forced to abandon their land, homes and jobs. At the same time, economic challenges remain as a result of the pandemic and will continue to drive up food prices. Despite a brief dip in mid-2021, global food prices have been rising since May 2020, with the Middle East, North Africa and Central & East Asia being the biggest concerns.
In addition, limited humanitarian access and the complex security situation for humanitarian organizations are a challenge, especially in Ethiopia, Mali, northern Nigeria, Niger, and Syria.
The report also highlights the situation in Afghanistan, where a record number of people are projected to face critical levels of food insecurity. There is a serious risk that part of the population will starve and die if the crisis is not averted. At the moment 22.8 million Afghans are affected by acute food insecurity. By March 2021, 8.7 million of them are expected to slip into critical levels of food insecurity, more than double the number for the same period last year and a record high for the country.
A young woman carries water at a camp for displaced people in the Tillaberi region, Niger.
© UNOCHA/Michele Cattani