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Aid agencies warn of rising acute food insecurity in 18 ‘hunger hotspots’

Although there are many “famine hotspots” in Africa, Concerns about famine persist in Gaza and Sudan, where conflict continues to rage, fueling the regional risk of new famine emergencies, warns the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP).

Once famine was declared it was too late – many people would starve to deathsaid Cindy McCain, WFP Executive Director. “In Somalia in 2011, half of the 250,000 people who died of starvation died before famine was officially declared. The world did not heed the warnings at the time and the consequences were disastrous. We must learn lessons and act now to prevent these hot spots from sparking a hunger firestorm.”

The early warning report by the United Nations agency includes 17 drought-affected countries and clusters in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe – warning that Mali, Palestine, Sudan and South Sudan remains at the highest alert level and requires the most urgent attention. Haiti was also added to that list amid escalating violence and threats to food security.

Focus on South Sudan

The devastating famine crisis unfolding in South Sudan is so bad that the number of people facing starvation and death there is expected to nearly double between April and July 2024, compared to same period in 2023.

“Tight domestic food supplies and sharp currency depreciation are causing food prices to rise, combined with possible flooding and renewed waves of local conflict,” the report explains. explained, in relation to South Sudan. “The expected further increase in the number of returnees and refugees from Sudan is likely to increase severe food insecurity among both new arrivals and host communities.”

Chad, Syria and Yemen are also in the spotlight

The report notes Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen are also hotspots of “very high concern.”

“Large numbers of people” in these countries face severe food insecurity, with worsening causes predicted to further increase the life-threatening situation in the coming months.

As of October 2023, Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia joined Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe is on the list of hunger hotspots, where severe food insecurity is likely to worsen in the coming months.

Climate extremes still exist

While conflict remains one of the main causes of food insecurity, the joint WFP and FAO early warning report highlights that climate shocks are also to blame, especially El Niño “ is still going on”.

Although that weather event is coming to an end, “it is clear that its impacts were severe and widespread,” the report’s authors asserted, pointing to devastating drought in southern Africa and widespread flooding in east Africa.

Moving on to potential impacts and ““lurking threat” of La Niña between August and February 2025, the assessment by UN agencies is that it is expected to have a “significant” impact on rainfall. This could lead to climate change with “major impacts” in several countries, including flooding in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Chad, Mali and Nigeria, as well as Sudan.

Prevent starvation and death

Both weather events could bring further climate extremes “that could impact lives and livelihoods”, the UN-collaborated report warns, supporting calls for action. immediate humanitarian action on a large scale “to prevent further famine and death”.


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