Starving millions in need of more support - GulfToday

Starving millions in need of more support


Over 270 million people are heading towards starvation and COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation.

The news that about 270 million people face starvation is utterly worrying and calls for immediate action. The number of people who stand on the brink of starvation is equivalent to the combined population of Germany, Britain, France and Italy, the head of the United Nations’ World Food Programme said on Thursday upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Because of so many wars, climate change, the widespread use of hunger as a political and military weapon, and a global health pandemic that makes all of that exponentially worse — 270 million people are marching toward starvation,” David Beasley said from the WFP headquarters in Rome, upon receiving the Nobel medal and diploma.

“Failure to address their needs will cause a hunger pandemic which will dwarf the impact of COVID. And if that’s not bad enough, out of that 270 million, 30 million depend on us 100% for their survival,” he added.

The tightening virus curbs have made access to food well nigh impossible, and the downswings in the economy around the globe means virtually no food for millions.

Spiralling food prices have helped exacerbate recent demonstrations in Lebanon, while shortages led to protests in Chile earlier this year. Poverty has forced many to leave home.

Tens of millions have joined the ranks of the terribly undernourished over the past five years, and countries around the world continue to struggle with multiple forms of malnutrition.

One report puts the number of people who went hungry in 2019 at 690 million – up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years.

With millions on the brink of famine in four nations, women and girls will be hardest hit due to cultural beliefs and COVID-19’s economic impact, the charity CARE said.

Women and girls are always at particular risk for being the ones to eat last and the ones to eat least. One in nine people do not have enough to eat, reversing decades of progress in reducing world hunger.

Nations have been taking action in this regard. Leaders of the 20 biggest economies vowed to ensure a fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world and do what was needed to support poorer countries struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany was contributing more than 500 million euros to the effort, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the G20, urging other countries to do their part.

The United Nations said it would release $80 million to tackle hunger in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and South Sudan, and another $20 million for drought-afflicted Ethiopia.

It’s worth noting that the United Nations has singled out the UAE’s humanitarian efforts for special praise. It commended its efforts to provide medical and protective supplies to African countries in the global fight against COVID-19.

According to the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UAE has maintained its ranking as one of the 10 largest donor states in the Official Development Aid (ODA) in 2015.

In 2018, the UAE has spent over Dhs28.5 billion on 42 countries, exceeding the 0.7 per cent UN’s ODA target for the sixth consecutive year.

The Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, in cooperation with Khalifa University, is preparing shipments of basic supplies to be sent to various underdeveloped countries in Africa and South Asia, benefiting the needy and families who live on the breadline.

What we should keep in mind is Beasley’s comment: “Please don’t ask us to choose who lives and who dies... Let’s feed them all.”

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