War and hunger go hand in hand, warns UN chief at Security Council

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“When war breaks out, people go hungry. Around 60% of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict. No country is immune. In April, the World Food Program and its partners distributed food and cash to more than 3 million Ukrainians. Until March, their country was supplying the world with abundant supplies of food,” the UN chief told a Security Council meeting on conflict and food security.

Last year, most of the world’s 140 million acutely hungry people lived in just ten countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan South, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Eight of these countries are on the agenda of the Security Council.

“Let there be no doubt: when this Council is discussing conflict, you are discussing hunger. When you make decisions about peacekeeping and political missions, you are making decisions about hunger. And when you don’t reach consensus, hungry people pay a high price,” Guterres said.

He pointed out that currently, the impact of conflicts is amplified by the climate crisis and economic insecurity, which is aggravated by the pandemic. “As a result, decades of progress in the fight against hunger are being undone,” he said.

Concern over the Sahel and the Horn of Africa

The Secretary-General said he saw this during his visit to the Sahel two weeks ago. The number of acutely food insecure people in Niger has more than doubled in the past two years and without immediate action the number could reach four million as early as this year.

“Niger and its neighbors urgently need a coordinated and large-scale international mobilization, which strengthens the links between peace, humanitarian action, adaptation to the impacts of climate change and sustainable development” , he said.

He also expressed deep concern over the food security situation in the Horn of Africa, which is suffering from the longest drought in four decades. More than 18 million people are affected.

The Secretary-General noted that globally, 49 million people in 43 countries are at emergency levels of hunger (CPI 4, as the technical term goes), i.e. close to starvation. . More than half a million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen and Madagascar are already at the so-called IPC Level 5, signifying catastrophic or famine conditions.

To help respond to this growing crisis, the Secretary-General announced that the United Nations will release $30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso. This brings to almost $95 million the funding provided through the Central Emergency Response Fund in the Sahel since the beginning of the year.

Four actions to take

It also detailed four actions countries can take now to break the deadly dynamics of conflict and hunger.

First, invest in political solutions to end conflicts, including an end to the war in Ukraine, he said. He also stressed the critical role of the Security Council in demanding respect for international humanitarian law.

Third, the Secretary-General believes that much greater coordination and leadership is needed to address the interconnected risks of food insecurity, energy and finance. Finally, he pleaded for the full funding of humanitarian appeals and asked that donors show the same generosity towards all countries as they have shown towards Ukraine.

The Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, also addressed the Security Council meeting, as did Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (FAO).

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