Four countries contain areas that could soon experience famine if conditions there deteriorate any further in the coming months, a report has said.
The countries prone to imminent hunger and famine are Yemen, South Sudan, Northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso, UN food agencies have said.
According to the joint report by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots” released last Thursday, “In the next three to six months, 20 countries and situations shown on the map are likely to face potential spikes in high acute food insecurity, driven by multiple overlapping.”
“Yemen, South Sudan, Northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso have areas of extreme concern whose populations partially or completely cut off from humanitarian assistance, have reached a critical hunger situation following years of conflict and other shocks.
“In these areas, any further deterioration over the coming months could lead to a risk of famine,” the report said.
The report, which aims to raise an early warning on 20 countries and situations called hotspots, that starting from already significant levels of acute food insecurity in early 2020, are facing the risk of a further rapid deterioration over the next months.
“But these four countries are from the only red flag on a world map that shows that acute food insecurity levels are reaching new highs globally, driven by a combination of factors,” the report notes.
Another 16 countries are at high risk of rising levels of acute hunger.
It said parts of the population in the four hotspots of highest concern are already experiencing a critical hunger situation.
The report warned that escalations in conflict as well as a further reduction in humanitarian access could lead to a risk of famine.
It said, “The aim of the hotspots report is to inform urgent action that can be taken now to avoid a major emergency or series of emergencies in three to six months from today.
“How the situation evolves in the highest risk countries will depend on conflict dynamics, food prices and the myriad impacts of the COVID -19 pandemic on their food systems.“Rainfall and harvest outcomes, humanitarian access and the readiness of donors to continue funding humanitarian operations,” it said.
In the report, the FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Dominique Burgeon, said “This report is a clear call to urgent actions.
“We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people’s ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger.
“We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario,” he said.
“We are at a catastrophic turning point.
“Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time.
“When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost.
“If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” the WFP director of Emergencies, Margot Van der Velden, said
She added, “In 2011, Somalia suffered a famine that killed 260,000 people.
“The famine was declared in July but most people had already died by May.
“We cannot let this happen again, we have a stark choice, urgent action today or unconscionable loss of life tomorrow,” she warned.