GLOBAL CHILDHOOD FAMINE
By Vincent Lyn
The year 2020 — dubbed as the ‘pandemic year’ — has been one of the worst years due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many wanted the year to end so that they get a fresh start in the year 2021. However, experts believe this year will, instead, be “catastrophic”. World Food Programme warns 2021 will bring ‘catastrophic’ humanitarian crisis. The #1 driver of hunger on the planet is man-made conflict. Conflict tears families apart, forces entire communities from their homes, destroys infrastructure and disrupts food production. It’s a vicious force, and one that’s pushed 80 million innocent children to the most extreme levels of hunger imaginable. 65% of the world’s hungriest people live in just ten countries, all are driven almost entirely by conflict and children are always the most vulnerable and effected.
Some examples of how violence and war causes such extreme levels of hunger.
Yemen is the world’s most dire food crisis. More than two million children are severely malnourished, and 360,000 are at risk of dying without treatment. Since 2016, a famine has been ongoing in Yemen which started during the civil war. More than 85,000 children have died as a result of the famine as of 2018. In May 2020, UNICEF described Yemen as “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, and estimated that 80% of the population, over 24 million people, were in need of humanitarian assistance. The famine is being compounded by an outbreak of cholera, which is resulting in 5,000 new cases daily. Devastation of Yemeni infrastructure, health, water and sanitation systems and facilities by Saudi-led coalition air strikes led to the spread of cholera. UNICEF says that there have been many attacks on water systems in Yemen cutting off water to many.
The famine in Yemen has been compounded by Houthi humanitarian siege and Saudi Arabia, who tightened its sea, air and land blockade of Yemen. The United Nations warned that 13 million people face starvation in what could be “the worst famine in the world in 100 years.” It’s estimated that 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation and malnutrition.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The DRC is on track to surpass Yemen as the world’s worst hunger crisis. Decades of civil war have left millions dead or displaced. The number of severely hungry people has skyrocketed from 13 million last year to nearly 22 million, due to a toxic mix of conflict, displacement, disease, economic decline, natural disasters and COVID-19.
Record-high levels of hunger across South Sudan are a result of a deadly combination of a years long civil war and erratic weather. Despite a recent peace agreement, violence grows, forcing families from their homes, jobs and support systems. But many parts of the country are facing a “catastrophic” conflict-fueled famine. A joint statement by the U.N agencies, including the World Food Programme, said 6.5 million people in South Sudan were facing severe food insecurity and the number could increase by almost a million by July.
Syria faces the risk of mass starvation or another mass exodus unless more aid money is made available. Nearly a decade of war has pushed more than 9 million Syrians to extreme levels of poverty and hunger. More than 6.1 million people are displaced inside the country, many of whom now live in squalid, overcrowded camps, and another 5.6 million have fled to neighboring countries. Syrian children have borne the brunt of the war’s effects. One million Syrians were severely food insecure and some were already dying. The war-torn country’s currency has collapsed and food prices have soared. The whole world’s facing crisis unlike anything we’ve seen probably in everyone’s lifetime. But, what’s happening in Syria is unprecedented. It’s the worst of all storms coming together.
Conflict and poverty are wreaking havoc in Nigeria, with the Northeast part of the country an epicenter of climate change and conflict. Attacks by armed groups and counter-insurgents have forced people from their homes and cut them off from their farms. Nearly 9 million people are food insecure.
The Central Sahel— comprised of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger — is on the verge of catastrophe. The area risks being consumed by a lethal mix of escalating armed conflict, the severe impacts of climate change and now the spread of COVID-19. More than 7 million don’t know when they’ll eat next and that could double before the end of the year. The number of internally displaced people has risen from 70,000 to nearly 1.6 million in less than a year, making it the fastest-growing IDP crisis globally. It’s devastatingly clear that communities in these countries are suffering, stuck in a vicious cycle of conflict and hunger that could dash their hopes for a stable, healthy future.
16.6% of the world’s population is undernourished. One billion people are living in extreme poverty. More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, which totals to $8.75 a week. This means that people in poverty can only spend $455 a year, whereas the average American spends $7,852 a year on food alone. This low amount of $1.25 a day could not even buy you one gallon of milk at market price.
As the largest and most populated continent, Asia is home to approximately 4.427 billion people. Unfortunately, more than 550 million people part of that population suffers from hunger.
Hunger is the cause of 45% of all children’s deaths. Each year, 3.1 million children die from hunger-related causes, which include diarrhea and malnutrition. Every 10 seconds a child dies from hunger. India has a population of 1.35 billion, and 230 million of those people are undernourished. This makes India the hunger capital of the world. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world.
Rising global food prices will cause 1.5 million more children to be undernourished. These rising prices are caused by the increase demand for food by the continually growing population and the under investment in agriculture. This demand takes away the only food source for those in need.
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts