Millions globally face famine-like situations - GulfToday

Millions globally face famine-like situations


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Conflicts take a toll on people, but children suffer both physically and emotionally. In Africa, in particular in Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region, their predicament is extremely precarious.

A new revelation from Unicef is very disheartening. It says over 100,000 kids in Tigray region could face the most damaging form of malnutrition in 2022. This comes as global aid is blocked from reaching about six million people.

The caveat emerges as top American and UN officials visit Ethiopia to urge the government to remove the siege on Tigray. Because of the siege, about 200 trucks laden with food are awaiting clearance to enter the region – and save thousands from starvation.

The trouble is, those of us who live in airconditioned comfort in tower blocks will not be able to understand the colossal scale of the blocks that tower over food supplies critical to sustenance.

Why should children suffer from something which is not of their own making but the result of dirty politics? Why should they be paying the price for the battles between the rebels and government forces? What is their fault?

It is sad that the brunt of the impact of the conflict is borne by women and children.

There is another more shocking revelation. The Americans say up to 900,000 people now face famine conditions in Tigray.

Over 400,000 children were screened during the conflict. Two districts, Gijet and Wajirat, had become virtually inaccessible.

There are worse revelations. For instance, Unicef says over 45 per cent of all pregnant and breastfeeding women in Tigray are acutely malnourished. Ethiopia’s government has been quick to apportion the blame on Tigray rebels who command control of much of the region. They have crossed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, but this has been denied by a senior official of the Agency for International Development.

More shocking news follows. Hunger is expected to go north in 23 global hotspots in the next three months with alarming alerts focused on Tigray, southern Madagascar, Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria.

Two UN agencies said in a new report on “Hunger Hotspots” between August and November that acute food insecurity was likely to worsen.

Ethiopia toplined the list, with the number of people facing starvation and death likely to go up to over 400,000, the highest number since the 2011 famine in Somalia.

In southern Madagascar, 14,000 people are expected to be pushed into “catastrophic” acute food insecurity marked by starvation and death by September.

Acute hunger has taken on terrible dimensions. Over 40 million people worldwide now have famine staring them in the face, unless the international community steps in.

Two Rome-based agencies have issued a distress call to save people’s lives in the 23 hotspots. They said help was urgently needed most in areas that are marked critical in the five highest alert places.

The two Cs – conflict and the coronavirus – are only making things worse. There are also issues of food price increases, curbs on movements that affect market sales, spiraling inflation, and a bad season for crops.

There are more nations where the food insecurity seems beyond redemption: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and Syria.

Six more countries have figured in the hotspot list: Chad, Colombia, North Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua.

As millions of people in over a dozen countries face the prospect of famine, there seems to be no letup in the grim situation. Concerted efforts and a strong political will to help the distressed can only help alleviate their dire problem.  Unless this happens, and that too in right earnest, the situation can only nosedive to disaster.

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