World Food Program Exec Warns UNSC of ‘Hunger Pandemic’ Catastrophe in 36 Countries
April 22, 2020 (EIRNS)—In an address to the United Nations Security Council April 21, World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley warned that 36 countries are facing famine. “Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility,” Beasley told to an online session of the UNSC.
“Forgive me for speaking bluntly,” he said, “but I’d like to lay out for you very clearly what the world is facing at this very moment. At the same time while dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.”
Citing the book-length 2020 Global Report on Food Crises which the WPF and 15 other humanitarian organizations released on April 20, he reported that altogether there are 821 million people who go to bed hungry and an additional 265 million facing crisis levels of hunger or worse.
“That means 135 million people on Earth are marching towards the brink of starvation. But now the World Food Program analysis shows that, due to the coronavirus, an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people,”
The WFP director stressed that “the economic and health impacts of COVID-19 are most worrisome for communities in countries across Africa as well as the Middle East, because the virus threatens further damage to the lives and livelihoods of people already put at risk by conflict.” Beasley said that WFP is prioritizing efforts to help children.
Currently, there are
“1.6 billion children and young people ... out of school due to lockdown closures. Nearly 370 million children are missing out on nutritious school meals—you can only imagine, when children don’t get the nutrition they need, their immunity goes down. Where nutritious school meals have been suspended by school closures, we are working to replace them with take-home rations, wherever possible.”
But more must be done, he urged. “First and foremost, we need peace. As the Secretary-General recently said very clearly, a global ceasefire is essential.”
There are no famines yet, Beasley said.
“But I must warn you that if we don’t prepare and act now ... we could be facing multiple famines of Biblical proportions within a few short months.” Thus, “the actions we take will determine our success, or failure, in building sustainable food systems as the basis of stable and peaceful societies. The truth is, we do not have time on our side, so let’s act wisely—and let’s act fast.”