Famine is on the rise in the Near East and North Africa with more than 52 million people undernourished, most of them in conflict zones, the U.N. food agency said Wednesday.
“Conflicts and protracted crises have spread and worsened since 2011, threatening the region’s efforts” to eliminate hunger, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.
“Fifty-two million people in the region are suffering from chronic undernourishment” with two-thirds of them in conflict zones, the FAO said in a statement.
These included Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, whose ongoing four-year war has killed tens of thousands of people, including many civilians and children, according to humanitarian organizations.
The fighting in Yemen has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 3.3 million people still displaced and 24.1 million in need of aid.
Conflicts in the Near East and North Africa had “long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security” of surrounding countries, said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s Cairo-based regional representative.
“The impact of conflict has been disrupting food and livestock production in some countries and consequently affecting the availability of food across the region,” he said.
Beyond conflicts, the FAO said rising hunger was also made worse in the region by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources and the growing threat of climate change.
In response to the crisis, the U.N. agency has called for a sustainable transformation of agriculture.
The FAO urged countries to improve market access for farmers, promote investment and innovation in agriculture and the management of water resources.
More on the Subject
A recent study estimates that at least 85,000 children have died of extreme starvation as a result of the war and experts warn that millions more are at risk of suffering the same fate if fighting continues
“The violence will have to stop. Unless it does, this country will become a country of living ghosts,” Abeer Etefa, the Senior Spokeswoman for the United Nations World Food Program, told The Globe Post.
Note: In April, Congress passed a war powers resolution directing the U.S. military to end its support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The resolution was then vetoed by President Donald Trump, and an attempt to override it failed.