Famine Looms for 41 Million People as UN Bids to Avert Crisis

About 0.5% of the global population is on the brink of famine this year, with $6 billion in funding needed to avert a crisis, the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned.

More than 500,000 people are already facing famine in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, with 41 million more “teetering on the very edge” across 43 countries, the agency said Tuesday in a statement. That figure has climbed by more than half since 2019, stoked by conflict, climate change and economic shocks.

A recent surge in prices for staples, coupled with depreciating currencies, is compounding food insecurity in countries including Nigeria, Lebanon and Zimbabwe. Global corn prices have nearly doubled from last year, and wheat costs are up by 30%, said the agency, which was the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I am heartbroken at what we’re facing in 2021,” said David Beasley, the WFP’s executive director. “I want to emphasize just how bad it is out there. Today, 41 million people are literally knocking on famine’s door.”

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