The world is “on the brink” of a hunger pandemic which could see more people die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself the U.N. Security Council was warned on Tuesday.
“We are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe,” David Beasley, director of the United Nations World Food Program said.
“Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the spectre of famine a very real and dangerous possibility.”
Beasley went on to say, due to the Coronavirus an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year, doubling the number of those already facing starvation worldwide according to the Global Report on Food Crisis.
On any given day now, WFP offers a lifeline to nearly 100 million people, up from about 80 million just a few years ago. This includes about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive. If we can’t reach these people with the life-saving assistance they need, our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period. This does not include the increase of starvation due to COVID-19.
In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation. In many places, this human suffering is the heavy price of conflict.
According to Beasley, lockdowns and economic recession are expected to result in a major loss of income among the working poor. Countries such as Haiti, Nepal, and Somalia will suffer as overseas remittances drop sharply. The decline in tourism will damage countries such as Ethiopia and collapsing oil prices in lower-income countries like South Sudan will be significantly impacted as oil accounts for 98.8% of total exports.
The consequences of this will be devastating, according to Beasley, who said there is a “real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”
Beasley said the World Food Program already serves nearly 100 million people per day, including 30 million who depend on the organisation to stay alive. The economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic will see that figure raised to 265 million people by the end of 2020.
Since late January, there have reportedly been just over 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths worldwide.