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More than quarter of a billion people could be affected by acute hunger by end of 2020 – UN

THE number of victims of COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020, the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) warned today in a new report.

According to the UN report, the number of people facing acute food insecurity stands to rise to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million from the 135 million in 2019, as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, according to a WFP projection.

Global Report on Food Crises showed that Nigeria was among the ten countries that constituted the worst food crises in 2019: Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, and Haiti.

The estimate was announced alongside the release of the global report on food crises, produced by WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development partners.

It is vital that the food assistance programme is maintained, including WFP’s own programmes which offer a lifeline to almost 100 million vulnerable people globally, the report showed.

WFP’s Senior Economist, Arif Husain said “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage.”

“Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock-like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe,” he added.

According to the report, the pandemic was first felt in some of the world’s biggest economies, originating in China, then hitting Italy and Spain, and now the United States has become the centre.

There is less data available on the spread in developing countries, where widespread testing is not being done and healthcare systems are often lacking.

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