Coronavirus: World faces ‘hunger pandemic’ which could kill 300,000 per day, warns UN

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The coronavirus pandemic has put the world at risk of a “hunger pandemic” that could kill 300,000 people every day, warned the head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Wednesday.

Before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic swept the world, killing more than 180,000 people and shutting down swathes of the global economy, millions of people across the Global South were already at risk of famine and food shortages.

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Now, the coronavirus pandemic has gravely exacerbated an already difficult situation and could lead to “biblical” famines, warned WFP Executive Director David Beasley in an online briefing broadcast by the UN on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

“Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility,” said Beasley.

According to WFP research, Beasley said that as COVID-19 continues to spread, “an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people.”

Read more: UN says hunger around world could double due to coronavirus fallout

Middle East, Africa at risk

The WFP pointed to countries in Africa and Middle East which were already riven by conflict or unable to provide for their residents as high risk.

“National health systems are already overstretched, with an alarming dearth of equipment, medicines and trained staff” in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.

The WFP warning is line with Al Arabiya English’s reports from refugee camps in various areas in Syria, with one camp having only one coronavirus testing machine for the entire camp and another completely cut off from international aid and without a single doctor.

Beasley broadcast his warning alongside the release of the WFP’s Global Report on Food Crises 2020. The report lists 55 countries where 135 million people face malnutrition this year.

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