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UN Chief Warns 30 Million People Facing Starvation, Calls For 'urgent Humanitarian Action'

The famine will worsen due to the lack of humanitarian access, leading to a critical rise in the rate of malnutrition, UN Chief Antonio Guterres warned.


As many as 34 million could face pandemic-related hunger and starvation in more than 20 countries in the months ahead, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ said during his remarks in the Security Council discussion on conflict and food security. “Women and girls face a double risk,” as the hunger crises escalate across the Sahel [region] and the Horn of Africa, and in South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, he added. The famine will worsen due to the lack of humanitarian access, leading to a critical rise in the rate of malnutrition, Guterres said. 

Meanwhile, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that in the aftermath of the ravaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic felt by many countries, many could die of starvation if the UN agency doesn’t receive critical funding and assistance from the governments worldwide. 34 million rely on life-saving food, David Beasley said. “If we lost our funding a minimum of 34 million would die. Over a three-month period, that would be 300,000 people dying per day,” Bealey warned. 

Leaders have to balance out the COVID response with keeping the economy going because otherwise a lot more people will die from starvation and economic deterioration than from COVID itself, the WFP’s head stated in a statement to The Globe and Mail. 

Food 'unaffordable' in Sudan

UN Chief Guterres, meanwhile, warned that the covid-related famine has already impacted many countries. In parts of conflict-ridden Yemen, South Sudan, and Burkina Faso, more than 150,000 people are at risk of starving, he said. “South Sudan is facing its highest levels of food insecurity since the country declared independence 10 years ago.  Sixty percent of the population are increasingly hungry,” UN’s Guterres said. Food prices in the region are so unaffordable that a plate of rice and beans costs more than 180 percent of the average daily salary of an individual. “Chronic sporadic violence, extreme weather, and the economic impact of COVID‑19 have pushed more than 7 million people into acute food insecurity,” Guterres informed, adding that last year, it was the Democratic Republic of the Congo that faced one of the worst food shortages.

(Image Credit: AP)

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