About 282 million people faced acute hunger last year: UN-led report | Hunger news

Gaza, Sudan and other conflicts – along with extreme weather and economic shocks – have exacerbated food insecurity, according to a new report that calls the global outlook for this year “bleak.”

According to United Nations agencies and development groups, food insecurity has worsened globally by 2023, with some 282 million people facing acute hunger due to conflict, especially in Gaza and Sudan.

Extreme weather events and economic shocks contributed to the number of people facing acute food insecurity, which grew by 24 million people compared to 2022, according to a global report on food crises from the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), published on Wednesday.

The report, which called the global outlook for this year “bleak”, was prepared for an international alliance bringing together UN agencies, the European Union and governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The year 2023 marked the fifth year in a row in which an increasing number of people faced acute food insecurity – defined as when populations face food shortages that threaten lives or livelihoods, regardless of the cause or duration.

Much of last year’s increase was due to the report’s extensive geographic coverage and deteriorating conditions in twelve countries.

More geographical areas suffered “new or intensified shocks”, while there was a “clear deterioration in the main contexts of the food crisis, such as Sudan and the Gaza Strip”, Fleur Wouterse, deputy director of the emergency response office within the Food and UN Agriculture Organization (FAO), told news agency AFP.

Edge of famine in Gaza

About 700,000 people, including 600,000 in Gaza, were on the brink of starvation last year, a figure that has since risen further to 1.1 million in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Since the Global Network Against Food Crises’ first report for 2016, the number of people with food insecurity has risen from 108 million to 282 million, Wouterse said.

Meanwhile, the share of the affected population in the affected areas has doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent, she added.

Food for Gaza children
Volunteers deliver food to families in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip (File: Mahmoud Issa/Reuters)

Long-term major food crises are underway in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen.

“In a world of plenty, children die of hunger,” wrote UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the foreword to the report.

“War, climate chaos and a cost of living crisis – combined with inadequate measures – will leave almost 300 million people facing an acute food crisis by 2023,” he said, adding that “financing will not be equal keeps pace with needs.”

Call for an end to hostilities

Before 2024, progress will depend on an end to hostilities, Wouterse said, stressing that aid could “quickly” alleviate the crisis in Gaza or Sudan, for example, once humanitarian access to the areas is possible.

Worsening conditions in Haiti were due to political instability and reduced agricultural production, “where in the breadbasket of the Artibonite Valley, armed groups have seized farmland and stolen crops,” Wouterse said.

Haiti food child
Lorena Jean Denise feeds her 19-month-old son David, one of many malnourished babies and toddlers being treated at the Center Hospitalier de Fontaine, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (File: Octavio Jones/Reuters)

The El Nino weather phenomenon could also lead to severe drought in West and Southern Africa, she added.

According to the report, conflict or insecurity situations have become the leading cause of acute hunger in 20 countries or territories, where 135 million people have suffered.

Extreme climate events such as floods or droughts were the main cause of acute food insecurity for 72 million people in 18 countries, while economic shocks put 75 million people in 21 countries in this situation.

“Falling global food prices were not passed on to import-dependent low-income countries,” the report said.

At the same time, “high debt levels limited the government’s ability to mitigate the effects of high prices.”

According to the report, the situation improved in 17 countries by 2023, including DR Congo and Ukraine.