A new report predicts that by the end of the year, 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself.
The report says Coronavirus is deepening the hunger crisis in the world’s hunger hotspots and creating new epicentres of hunger across the globe.
Published by Oxfam, the report highlights the 10 extreme hunger hotspots where the food crisis is most severe and getting worse as a result of the pandemic: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Haiti.
According to the report, “The pandemic is the final straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers.
“Meanwhile, those at the top are continuing to make a profit: eight of the biggest food and drink companies paid out over $18 billion to shareholders since January even as the pandemic was spreading across the globe – ten times more than has been requested in the UN COVID-19 appeal to stop people going hungry.”
Increase in the rise of hunger due to COVID-19
“The COVID-19 pandemic has added fuel to the fire of an already growing hunger crisis. Even before the pandemic struck, hunger was on the rise. In 2019, 821 million people were estimated to be food insecure, of which approximately 149 million suffered crisis-level hunger or worse.
“Now the coronavirus has combined with the impacts of conflict, spiralling inequality and an escalating climate crisis to shake an already broken global food system to its foundations, leaving millions more on the brink of starvation.
“The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that the number of people experiencing crisis-level hunger will rise to 270 million before the end of the year as a result of the pandemic, an 82% increase since 2019.
“New hunger hotspots are also emerging. Middle-income countries such as India, South Africa, and Brazil are experiencing rapidly rising levels of hunger as millions of people that were just about managing have been tipped over the edge by the pandemic.
” Even the world’s richest countries are not immune. Data from the UK government shows that during the first few weeks of the lockdown as many as 7.7 million adults reduced their meal portion sizes or missed meals, and up to 3.7 million adults sought charity food or used a food bank.”
The report recognised the need for governments to take urgent action to contain the spread of the coronavirus, but is also calling on them to act now, to end this hunger crisis.
Oxfam said to save lives now and in the future, governments must: fully fund the UN’s humanitarian appeal; build fairer, more resilient, and more sustainable food systems, beginning with a high-level Global Food Crisis Summit when the Committee on World Food Security meets in October; promote women’s participation and leadership in decisions on how to fix the broken food system; cancel debt to allow lower-income countries put social protection measures in place; support the UN’s call for a global ceasefire, and take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.