Readers may recall we outlined months back how the COVID-19 pandemic increased the risk of famine across the world's more impoverished regions (see: Hunger Pandemic: Visualizing COVID-19's Effect On Global Food Insecurity).
While virus cases and deaths dominate headlines, other humanitarian crises also need attention, that is, an emerging "famine of biblical proportions" that threatens much of the world, United Nations World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley told TASS News last weekend in an interview.
Beasley said the WFP is requesting $5 billion in emergency funds within the next six months that will help in the effort to thwart a global famine.
"All the data we have, including WFP's forecast of an 80% increase in the number of food-insecure people - from 140 million before the pandemic to 270 million by the end of this year - points to a real catastrophe, a famine of biblical proportions, "he said.
The dramatic rise in the number of people who don't have the means to feed themselves because of depressionary unemployment, supply chain breakdowns, and crop failures is set to cause long-term economic damage that could prevent a vibrant economic recovery.
Beasley said, "it is clear that social tensions will escalate, migration will increase, conflicts will expand, and hunger can affect those who have not experienced it before."
Even in the US, a developed world economy, tens of millions of folks have gone hungry, now relying on government aid and food banks for survival. He noted that countries in the 2008 financial crash with a "stronger social protection system" were less impacted by famine.
WFP projections show significant increases in malnourished people in Latin America, countries in Eastern and Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, had a doubling of the number of people going hungry in a short period.
"World hunger is already sky-high, and if we do not act immediately, many will die, children will suffer the consequences of malnutrition for many years to come, and the whole world will be thrown back, having lost all the gains in the fight against hunger of the last decade. Will be incredibly high, we need to act quickly and wisely, balancing immediate relief and long-term recovery," Beasley said.
He added: "WFP's mission is to provide food to 138 million people in 2020, the largest humanitarian operation in history. And this unprecedented crisis requires an incredible amount of money."
In a separate food insecurity report from June, the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, warned the world is on the brink of the worst food crisis ever witnessed in the post-World War II era.
All of this makes you wonder if the famine warnings are just hype or if the virus-induced downturn has really sent the world into years of crisis.