He said it is incredibly disturbing that 50 million of those people in 45 countries are suffering from very acute malnutrition and “knock on famine”.
“What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger,” he said, pointing to the increasing conflict, the economic wave effects of the pandemic, climate change, rising fuel prices and the war in Ukraine.
Since Russia invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24, Beasley said, rising food, fuel and fertilizer costs have brought 70 million people closer to starvation.
Despite the July agreement allowing Ukrainian grain shipments from three Black Sea ports blocked by Russia, and despite ongoing efforts to get Russian fertilizer back onto the world market, “there is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines.” this year,” he said. said. “And in 2023, the current food price crisis could turn into a food crisis if we don’t act.”
The Security Council focused on conflict-induced food insecurity and famine risk in Ethiopia, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. But Beasley and UN humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths also warned of the food crisis in Somalia, which they both recently visited, and Griffiths also put Afghanistan high on the list.
“There will be famine in Somalia,” Griffiths said, and “make sure it won’t be the only place either.”
He cited recent assessments that “hundreds of thousands of people are facing catastrophic famine”, meaning they are at the worst level of “famine”.
Beasley recalled his warning to the council in April 2020 “that we were then dealing with famine, famine of biblical proportions.” He then said the world “stepped up with funding and tremendous response, and we averted catastrophe.”
“We’re on the brink again, even worse, and we need to do everything we can — all hands on deck with every fiber of our bodies,” he said. “The hungry people of the world are counting on us, and… we mustn’t let them down.”
Griffiths said the widespread and increasing food insecurity results from the direct and indirect impact of conflict and violence that kills and injures civilians, forces families to flee the land they depend on for income and food, and leads to economic decline and rising prices for food they cannot afford.
After more than seven years of war in Yemen, he said, “about 19 million people – six in 10 – are acutely food insecure, an estimated 160,000 people are facing catastrophe and 538,000 children are severely malnourished.”
Beasley said the war in Ukraine is fueling inflation in Yemen, which is 90% dependent on food imports. The World Food Program hopes to help about 18 million people, but costs have risen 30% this year to $2.6 billion. As a result, it has been forced to cut spending so that Yemenis will only get two-thirds of their previous ration this month, he said.
Beasley said South Sudan is facing “the highest rate of acute hunger since Sudan’s independence in 2011”. He said 7.7 million people, more than 60% of the population, are “facing critical or worsening levels of food insecurity”. Without a political solution to the escalating violence and substantial aid spending, “many people in South Sudan will die,” he warned.
In the Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions of northern Ethiopia, more than 13 million people need life-saving food, Griffiths said. He pointed to a survey in Tigray in June that found that 89% of people were food insecure, “more than half of them seriously”. Beasley said a truce in March allowed the WFP and its partners to reach nearly 5 million people in the Tigray area, but fighting resumed in recent weeks “threatened to push many hungry, exhausted families over the edge”.
In northeastern Nigeria, the UN predicts that 4.1 million people face high food insecurity, including 588,000 who faced emergencies between June and August, Griffiths said. He said nearly half of those people could not be reached because of insecurity, and the UN fears that “some people are already at the level of catastrophe and already dying.”
Griffiths urged the Security Council to “leave no stone unturned” in an effort to end these conflicts, and to increase funding for humanitarian operations, saying that UN calls in those four countries are all “well below half of the required funding”.