‘Tsunami of hunger’ could cause multiple famines, Security Council warned


Martin Griffiths, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, recalled previous warnings about the impact of the conflict in Ethiopia,


He spoke of his recent trip to Somalia, where more than 200,000 people are currently at risk of starvation – a number expected to reach 300,000 by November – “with millions more” on the brink of starvation.

Recent humanitarian assessments have identified hundreds of thousands of people facing catastrophic hunger, or stage 5 of the Integrated Phase Classification system – the ultimate, most devastating stage.

Hunger is used as a tactic of war – UN Emergency Relief Coordinator

“It just doesn’t get any worse than that,” the OCHA chief said, noting that widespread suffering comes down to the direct and indirect impact of conflict and “the behavior of the belligerents”.

‘tactics of war’

Mr Griffiths noted that “a similar pattern recurs in every context”, outlining how civilians are killed and injured; families forcibly displaced; disrupted market and job access; food supplies looted; while the overall economic decline makes food out of reach for the vulnerable.

“In the most extreme cases, warring factions have deliberately cut off access to the commercial supplies and essential services that civilians rely on to survive,” he said.

“Hunger is used as a tactic of war”.

Although humanitarian workers have expanded “relief helplines”, access to those in need is often blocked by interference, intimidation and attacks.

“Humanitarians will stay and deliver, but the conditions in some contexts are unacceptable,” the OCHA chief said.

drive hunger

Meanwhile, drought, rising global commodity prices and the impact of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are also exacerbating food insecurity and misery.

And people in South Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia are “literally on the front lines of climate change” as they face drought, flooding, desertification and water scarcity.


©UNICEF/Owis Alhamdan

During seven years of the Yemeni conflict, displaced children in Marib have experienced unimaginable suffering.

More than seven years of armed conflict in Yemen has wreaked havoc, leaving about 19 million people in acute food insecurity.

“An estimated 160,000 people are facing catastrophe and 538,000 children are severely malnourished,” the aid coordinator said, warning that funding shortfalls could exacerbate the situation.

Last year, Southern Sudan was one of the most dangerous places to be a relief worker, with 319 violent incidents targeting humanitarian personnel and resources.

Meanwhile, more than 13 million people in Afar, Amhara and Tigray are in Ethiopianeed life-saving food aid.

While improvements were seen in the delivery of humanitarian aid in northern Ethiopia, “the resumption of hostilities in recent weeks is undoing recent progress,” he said.

Turning to the northeast NigeriaThe UN predicts that 4.1 million people in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe face a high level of acute food insecurity, including 588,000 people who already experienced emergencies between June and August – nearly the half were unreachable for humanitarian assistance.

“Food safety assessments have not been possible in these areas, but we fear that some people are already at the catastrophe level and at risk of death,” he said.

Internally displaced mothers with their children attend a WFP famine relief exercise in Borno state, northeast Nigeria.

© WFP/Arete/Siegfried Modola

Internally displaced mothers with their children attend a WFP famine relief exercise in Borno state, northeast Nigeria.

Take action

The humanitarian leader reminded ambassadors that action can be taken, starting with the pursuit of “peaceful and negotiated solutions” to conflict and other violent situations.

Second, states and armed groups must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid.

Mr Griffiths also stressed that climate change is an issue “critical for peace and security”, both now and in the future.

He pleaded with all member states to prioritize “a longer-term approach and ensure a significant proportion of funding – as grants, not loans – for climate adaptation and mitigation”.

“Time is not on our side,” he concluded.

Time is not on our side – UN Emergency Relief Coordinator

fanning the flames

Just returned from a trip to Central America, David Beasley, head of the World Food Program (WFP), saw firsthand how conflict is “fueling the flames” of what is already a severe hunger crisis.

From the difficult Darién Gap border crossing to Guatemala, he told “tragic stories” of people who migrated north “out of sheer desperation.”

“The impact of the climate crisis and the ongoing ripple effects of COVID have already depleted many families’ ability to cope,” he said.

“People feel like they have nothing left – they can stay and starve, or leave and risk death for the chance of a better future.”

‘Unprecedented’ Global Emergency

The WFP chief argued that under the threat of increasing mass starvation and famine, “we are facing a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude”.

And since the conflict in Ukraine began, “a wave of hunger has turned into “a tsunami,” he continued, noting that up to 345 million people in 82 countries are “on their way to starvation.”

“This is a record high – now more than 2.5 times the number of acutely food insecure people before the pandemic started.”

Mr Beasley presented staggering statistics on the plight facing hundreds of millions around the world.

As raging conflicts push millions of “impeccable civilians ever closer to starvation and famine”, he asked the Council to “show the humanitarian leadership the world urgently needs now and … an insecurity crisis that threatens to spiral out of control”.

“The hungry people of the world are counting on us to do the right thing – and we mustn’t let them down,” concluded Mr. Beasley.

A woman carries a basket of flowers next to the cobblestone streets and crumbling walls of Antigua, Guatemala.

Unsplash/Scott Umstattd

A woman carries a basket of flowers next to the cobblestone streets and crumbling walls of Antigua, Guatemala.

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