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Acute food insecurity will increase in 18 ‘hunger hotspots’, aid agencies warn – Global Issues

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Although many ‘hunger hotspots’ are located in Africa, Fears of famine persist in Gaza and Sudan, where conflict continues to rage. fueling the regional risk of new famine emergencies, warned the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP).

Once a famine is declared, it is too late; many people will have already died of starvation,” said Cindy McCain, WFP Executive Director. “In Somalia in 2011, half of the 250,000 people who died of hunger died before famine was officially declared. The world at the time did not heed the warnings and the consequences were catastrophic. We must learn the lesson and act now to prevent these hotspots from causing a firestorm of hunger.”

The UN agency’s collaborative Early Warning Report covering 17 countries and the drought-affected cluster of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe – warns that Mali, Palestine, Sudan and South Sudan remain at the highest alert level and require the most urgent attention. Haiti was also added to that list, amid escalating violence and threats to food security.

South Sudan focus

The devastating hunger crises underway in South Sudan are so severe that the number of people facing hunger and death there is expected to almost double between April and July 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.

“Tight domestic food supplies and sharp currency devaluations are causing food prices to rise, exacerbated by likely floods and recurring waves of subnational conflicts,” the report explains, referring to South Sudan. “An expected further increase in the number of returnees and refugees from Sudan is likely to exacerbate acute food insecurity among both newcomers and host communities.”

Chad, Syria and Yemen are also in the spotlight

Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen are also hotspots of “very high concern,” the report said.

“A large number of people” in these countries are facing critical acute food insecurity, coupled with worsening factors that are expected to further worsen life-threatening conditions in the coming months.

Since October 2023, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia connected Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe on the list of hotspots, where acute food insecurity is likely to worsen further in the coming months.

Climate extremes continue to exist

While conflict remains one of the leading causes of food insecurity, the joint WFP-FAO warning report highlights that climate shocks are also responsible, not least the “still ongoing” El Niño.

Although this weather phenomenon is now coming to an end, “it is clear that its impact was severe and widespread,” the report’s authors emphasized, pointing to devastating drought in southern Africa and extensive flooding in eastern Africa.

Regarding the potential impact and “looming threat” of La Niña between August and February 2025, the UN agencies estimate that this is expected to impact rainfall “significantly”. This could lead to a climate shift with “major consequences” in several countries, including flooding in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Chad, Mali and Nigeria, as well as Sudan.

Preventing hunger and death

Both weather phenomena could lead to further climate extremes “that could upend lives and livelihoods,” the UN report warned, supporting calls for immediate, large-scale humanitarian action “to prevent further famine and death to prevent”.

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