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41m persons at risk of famine worldwide, WFP warns

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The World Food Programme (WFP), yesterday, warned that 41 million people in 43 countries “are teetering on the very edge of famine”, up from 27 million two years ago. 

In its latest analysis, it sought urgent funding and humanitarian access for those in need. 

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According to the United Nations (UN) agency, conflicts, climate change and economic shocks are the main drivers of hunger, adding that pressures on food security were being compounded by soaring food prices this year. 

“I am heartbroken at what we’re facing in 2021. We now have four countries where famine-like conditions are present”, WFP’s chief, David Beasley, told its executive statement by the agency. 

He described the situation as “just tragic”, as “these are real people with real names.”  

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The global agency said 584,000 people were experiencing famine-like conditions in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen.   

Nigeria and Burkina Faso are also of particular concern as they have pockets where similar conditions subsist.

“In Somalia in 2011, 260,000 people died of hunger – and by the time the famine was actually declared – half of that number had already died,” Beasley recalled.

“We can’t debate the numbers to death when people need our help now,” he added.

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In many countries, currency depreciation is also a factor to the problem, the agency added.  

This has driven prices even higher, stoking food insecurity in places such as Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, WFP further said. 

The organisation is mounting its biggest operation ever this year, targeting 139 million people.  

With sufficient funding and access, the agency said it could provide them with life-saving food and nutritional assistance. 

Beasley underlined the urgent need for support. 

“I want to emphasise just how bad it is out there. Today, 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door. The price tag to reach them is about $6 billion. We need funding and we need it now,” he appealed.

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