The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) predicted a global food “catastrophe” over the next two years in a report released Wednesday.
Up to 2.3 billion people faced moderate to severe food insecurity in 2021, with those numbers only projected to rise, according to the report. WFP blamed global conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change for exacerbating hunger levels across the globe, and countries in Central America, Africa and the Middle East will endure the severest shortages, according to the report.
“The result will be global destabilization, starvation, and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. We have to act today to avert this looming catastrophe,” David Beasley, director of the UN WFP, said in a statement following the report.
The report found that the total number of people nearing starvation-level hunger rose from 276 million before Russia invaded Ukraine to 345 million as of June. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number was at just 135 million.
“Policies in response to the virus’ spread … laid the foundation for food scarcity in various places,” Pete Earle, an economist for the American Institute of Economic Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
For each 1% increase in food prices, 10 million people are thrown into extreme poverty, according to @WorldBank estimates.
While the war in #Ukraine is fueling a global crisis, our food problems didn’t start there.
Get all the facts: https://t.co/DrPLLpaBYz
— World Food Programme (@WFP) July 5, 2022
Beasley warned in a preface to a Blair Institute pamphlet published Friday that fuel and fertilizer shortages contributing to soaring food prices, as well as the Russian blockade of the Ukrainian Black Sea port, will drastically reduce food availability for vulnerable populations across the globe. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest wheat producers, but Russia has prevented exports from leaving Ukrainian ports, according to The Guardian. (RELATED: Americans Could See Grocery Store Prices Skyrocket Even Higher: REPORT)
“Without urgent action, food production and crop yields will be slashed,” Beasley said. “This raises the frightening possibility that on top of today’s food-pricing crisis, the world will also face a genuine crisis of food availability over the next 12 to 24 months.”
The WFP issued a separate Red Alert urging governments to step up, noting that the cost to carry out its program rose an additional $42 million per month due to supply shortages and rising prices. WFP intends to eliminate world hunger by 2030, according to the full report.
“The most immediate, low cost way of mitigating the rise in food insecurity would be to remove every protectionist barrier to trade, tariff, fee and other hindrance to the movement of goods and services possible,” Earle told the DCNF.
WFP did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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