World Food Program Director Beasley States COVID-Related Hunger Crisis in Americas Is Surging
Aug. 4, 2020 (EIRNS)—In a trip to Ibero-America last week, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), warned of the rapid increase in hunger throughout the region, as a result of the worsening economic and health crises triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. A July 29 release posted to the WFP website warned that “Hunger Rises as COVID-19 Cases Surge in Latin America.” WFP is particularly concerned “about vulnerable people in Haiti, the Central American Dry Corridor as well as Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.” Conditions are made worse as the hurricane season advances.”
According to Beasley, Latin America and the Caribbean are set to see a 269% rise in the number of people facing severe food insecurity, bringing the total to 16 million people not knowing where their next meal is coming from in coming months. In 2019, that figure stood at 4.3 million.
To begin to address this need, WFP said $328 million is needed urgently. There is food stationed in Panama, one of the permanent locations for pre-staging supplies for both the WFP and the World Health Organization. As quoted by the WFP release, Beasley warned that, “the COVID-19 pandemic has just been devastating in Latin America, where the economic storm clouds were already gathering. Families are struggling to buy basics like food and medicine, as livelihoods are destroyed and the number of people out of work in the region hits 44 million. It’s a deadly combination and we’ve got to act now, and we’ve got to be smart. You can’t just deal with COVID-19 by itself or hunger by itself. They must be dealt with together. If we do it right, we can save lives. If we don’t do it right, people will die.”
In an interview with Ecuador’s El Comercio, Beasley stressed that Latin America’s population is particularly vulnerable, due to the high percentage of people who work in the informal, underground, economy, deprived of services or benefits of any kind. He pointed to migratory flows—people going from country to country seeking a stable living situation, as occurred with the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who left that country. On top of the economic crisis related to the COVID pandemic, you have a “perfect storm,” Beasley said. More and more people “will be pushed into poverty and hunger.”