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Global food insecurity at 5-year high amid COVID, conflict, UN warns

Conflict continues to be largest driver of food scarcity as economic shocks largely caused by the pandemic is second

Michael Hernandez   | 05.05.2021
Global food insecurity at 5-year high amid COVID, conflict, UN warns

WASHINGTON

Acute food insecurity has reached a five-year high worldwide as the international community grapples with conflict, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, a UN-backed report warned on Wednesday.

Conflict, the economic fallout from the pandemic and extreme weather "are continuing to push millions of people into acute food insecurity," according to the Global Network Against Food Crises, comprised of the UN, EU and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Last year, at least 155 million people suffered acute food insecurity in 55 countries and territories, said the report. It represents an increase of 20 million people from 2019, and levels have been rising every year since 2017 when the first edition of the report was issued.

Conflict was the main driver for food insecurity in 2020, pushing 100 million people into acute scarcity, up from 77 million in 2019.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the international community to rein in violence, emphasizing, "Conflict and hunger are mutually reinforcing."

"We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either," he said in an accompanying statement. "We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace.”

After conflict, economic shocks mostly caused by the coronavirus pandemic were the second-largest driver of food insecurity, causing more than 40 million people to face insecurity. And extreme weather caused about 16 million people to cope with hunger, according to the report.

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