STORY: 41 Million Face Famine - WFP
TRT: 3 mins 29s
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 18 June 2020 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Famine risk spikes amid conflict, COVID-19 and funding gaps: WFP
The impact of conflicts old and new, climate shocks and COVID-19 in addition to a lack of funding have left millions more people on the verge of famine than six months ago, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
“The United Nations World Food Programme, WFP, is worried that millions of refugees are looking to a future of uncertainty and hunger as the impact of the pandemic on aid budgets plays out in funding shortages for emergency operations,” said spokesperson Tomson Phiri.
“The number of people teetering on the brink of famine has risen from 34 million projected at the beginning of the year, to 41 million projected as of June. Without immediate emergency food assistance, they too face starvation, as the slightest shock will push them over the cliff into famine conditions.”
According to the latest IPC food insecurity assessments - which humanitarians use to assess needs on a scale of one to five – the 41 million “are people who are in IPC phase 4 – emergency”, the WFP spokesperson explained.
New refugee influxes linked to conflict and drought have increased needs for people in “IPC phase 5 – catastrophe” and “that number stands at 584,000 people”, Mr. Phiri continued. “These are people in in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Madagascar, particularly the southern part; South Sudan, especially as we are now at the height of the lean season in that country, and Yemen.”
Launching the WFP Global Operational Response Plan, the UN agency highlighted operations in no less than eight countries and regions where it has had to make “brutal choices” because of significant funding shortfalls.
In practice, this has meant reduced rations “across east and southern Africa, as well as the Middle East…among some of the world’s most vulnerable people who rely on WFP to survive”, said Mr. Phiri.
Highlighting the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the most vulnerable recipients of humanitarian aid, the WFP spokesperson explained that “more and more people (were) in need because of the rising food crisis in the region. We have a lot of people unable to work, mainly because of the fallout from COVID-19. So, the situation in west Africa, or in west African countries – west and central Africa, indeed - countries like Chad, Niger and Burkina, Mauritania; these are all countries of concern, including Sierra Leone as well.”
Appealing for $5 billion this year “to avoid famine” and meet the urgent needs of those most at risk, Mr. Phiri noted that ration cuts differed from country to country. “In some cases it’s 40 per cent, in some cases it’s 25 per cent, in some cases it’s 60 per cent…The fact is, the assistance we provide is a basic need, the assistance we provide is just enough to help people get by.”
The world is no longer moving towards Zero Hunger, according to WFP, which said in a statement that “progress has stalled, reversed, and today, more than 270 million people are estimated to be acutely food insecure or at high risk in 2021”.