Even before the war in Ukraine, acute food insecurity affected almost 40 million more people in 2021, reaching almost 200 million in the world, due to conflict, climate and the economic crisis, the UN warned in a statement.
Last year, 193 million people in 53 countries were acutely food insecure, meaning they needed urgent help to survive.
However, even with food aid, many were acutely malnourished, unable to meet minimal food needs.
The number has continued to increase since 2016, the date of the first publication of the report prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the European Union (EU).
And the war in Ukraine, which began in February, will exacerbate the fragility of countries heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian cereals or fertilizers, such as Somalia.
“The war has highlighted the interconnectedness and fragility of food systems,” the FAO said, warning that the “prospects for the future are not good.”
“If we don’t do more to support rural areas, the magnitude of the damage linked to hunger and deteriorating living standards will be dramatic. Urgent, large-scale humanitarian action is needed,” he added.
The increase in 2021 is the result of a “triple toxic combination of conflict, extreme weather and economic crisis”, according to FAO.
Conflicts are the cause of food insecurity for 139 million people, especially in countries experiencing political and humanitarian crises such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Economic difficulties due to the covid-19 pandemic, less severe than in 2020, were the main cause of acute hunger for 30.2 million people in the world.
And extreme weather conditions were the main cause of acute food insecurity for 23.5 million people in eight African countries.
$1.5 billion in financial aid is needed to act now, taking advantage of the planting season to increase production in risk zones, according to FAO.
The UN indicates that its numbers have also increased by the inclusion of new states, such as the DRC.