Rome, Jan 2 (IANS/AKI) Millions of people will require life-saving food assistance in sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of this year amid surging hunger levels that will stretch the United Nations World Food Programme and its partners to the limit, WFP said in a statement.
Worst hit by food scarcity are Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region, WFP warned in its 2020 Global Hotspots report, urging donors to give generously to the international humanitarian response.
The UN agency estimates it will require more than $10 billion to fully fund all its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020.
“WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
“In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”
With its economy in meltdown, Zimbabwe is increasingly precarious as the country enters the peak of its ‘lean season’ when food is at its most scarce and the number of hungry people has reached its highest point in a decade.
WFP said it is planning assistance for more than 4 million people in Zimbabwe as concerns grow that the impact of a regional drought could drag yet more countries down in the first months of the year.
A rapidly evolving crisis in Haiti is of deep concern at the turn of the year as escalating unrest paralyses the economy, driving food prices out of reach of many people (over 40 per cent between October 2018 and October 2019). A total 3.7 million Haitians – or one-third of the population – now need aid, according to a recent IPC survey on food insecurity.
In Asia, Afghanistan faces insecurity combined with drought, leaving more than 11 million people – over a third of the country’s population – not knowing where their next meal is coming from, WFP said.
In the Middle East, WFP has had particular success in Yemen, where it said it boosted its food assistance by 50 per cent from 8 million people a month at the beginning of 2018 to 12 million by the end of last year. WFP said it remains alert to growing food needs in Iraq and Lebanon, where civil unrest and macro-economic crisis are driving food insecurity.
“The world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020 WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency,” said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies.