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UN: Hunger Expected to Rise in Hotspots07/31 10:14

   

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Hunger is expected to rise in 23 global hotspots in 
the next three months with the highest alerts for "catastrophic" situations in 
Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region, southern Madagascar, Yemen, South Sudan and 
northern Nigeria, two U.N. agencies warned Friday.

   The Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program said in a new 
report on "Hunger Hotspots" between August and November that "acute food 
insecurity is likely to further deteriorate."

   They put Ethiopia at the top of the list, saying the number of people facing 
starvation and death is expected to rise to 401,000 -- the highest number since 
the 2011 famine in Somalia -- if humanitarian aid isn't provided quickly.

   In southern Madagascar, which has been hit by the worst drought in the past 
40 years, pests affecting staple crops, and rising food prices -- 14,000 people 
are expected to be pushed into "catastrophic" acute food insecurity marked by 
starvation and death by September. And that number is expected to double by the 
end of the year with 28,000 people needing urgent help, the two agencies said.

   In a report in May, 16 organizations including FAO and WFP said at least 155 
million people faced acute hunger in 2020, including 133,000 who needed urgent 
food to prevent widespread death from starvation, a 20 million increase from 
2019.

   "Acute hunger is increasing not only in scale but also severity," FAO and 
WFP said in Friday's report. "Overall, over 41 million people worldwide are now 
at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions, unless they receive 
immediate life and livelihood-saving assistance."

   The two Rome-based agencies called for urgent humanitarian action to save 
lives in the 23 hotspots, saying help is especially critical in the five 
highest alert places to prevent famine and death.

   "These deteriorating trends are mostly driven by conflict dynamics, as well 
as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," they said. "These include food price 
spikes, movement restrictions that limit market and pastoralists activities 
alike, rising inflation, decreased purchasing power, and an early and prolonged 
lean season" for crops.

   FAO and WFP said South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria remain at the highest alert 
level, joined for the first time by Ethiopia because of Tigray and southern 
Madagascar.

   In South Sudan, they said, "famine was most likely happening in parts of 
Pibor county between October and November 2020, and was expected to continue in 
the absence of sustained and timely humanitarian assistance" while two other 
areas remain at risk of famine.

   "In Yemen, the risk of more people facing famine-like conditions may have 
been contained, but gains remain extremely fragile," the U.N. agencies said. 
"In Nigeria, populations in conflict-affected areas in the northeast may be at 
risk of reaching catastrophic food insecurity levels."

   Nine other countries also have high numbers of people facing "critical food 
insecurity" coupled with worsening drivers of hunger -- Afghanistan, Burkina 
Faso, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and 
Syria, the report said.

   Six countries have been added to the hotspot list since the agencies' March 
report -- Chad, Colombia, North Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua, it said. 
Three other countries also facing acute food insecurity are Somalia, Guatemala 
and Niger, while Venezuela wasn't included due to lack of recent data, it said.

   In Afghanistan, FAO and WFP said 3.5 million people are expected to face the 
second-highest level of food insecurity, characterized by acute malnutrition 
and deaths, from June to November. They said the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO 
forces as early as August could lead to escalating violence, additional 
displaced people and difficulties in distributing humanitarian assistance.

   In reclusive North Korea, which is under tough U.N. sanctions, the agencies 
said "concerns are mounting over the food security situation ... due to 
strained access and the potential impact of trade limitations, which may lead 
to food gaps." While data is "extremely limited," they said recent figures from 
the country's Central Bureau o Stations and an FAO analysis "highlight a 
worrying cereal deficit."

 
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