The UN agency says global hunger has increased by three million within a year, with conflict, climate change and COVID key drivers.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said that the number of people on the brink of starvation in 43 countries has risen to 45 million, as an acute famine worldwide.
The jump of 42 million people earlier this year was largely due to a food security assessment that found another three million people facing famine in Afghanistan, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Monday.
“Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss. We have conflict, climate change and COVID-19 which is driving up the numbers of the very hungry, ”said David Beasley, executive director of the WFP.
“And the latest data shows there are now more than 45 million people marching to the brink of starvation,” he said after a trip to Afghanistan, where WFP increases support for nearly 23 million people.
“Fuel costs are rising, food prices are rising, fertilizers are more expensive, and all this is leading to new crises like the one now unfolding in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria,” he added.
WFP said the cost of preventing famine worldwide now stands at $ 7 billion, higher than $ 6.6 billion earlier in the year, but warned that traditional funding flows have been overshadowed.
Families facing acute food insecurity are “forced to make devastating choices,” to marry children early, to pull them out of school, or to feed them locusts, wild leaves, or cacti.
“Meanwhile, media reports from Afghanistan indicate that families are allegedly being forced to sell their children in a desperate attempt to survive,” it said.
Multiple droughts in Afghanistan have combined with an economic collapse to push families to the brink, while some 12.4 million people in Syria do not know where their next meal will come from – more than at any time during the decade-long conflict, that said.
Increases in acute hunger are also seen in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya and Burundi, the Rome-based agency said.