Reports on the COVID-19 pandemic and the deadliness of the virus in many countries worldwide including the United States and EU nations, continue to dominate American, European and Asian news outlets. Still, lives of the poorest people in many nations are more threatened by starvation than the Coronavirus. If COVID-19 were to spread among such vulnerable individuals susceptible to malaria and other serious diseases, the outbreak would, undoubtedly, lead to a tragedy of global proportions.
In recent years, experts from the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations have increasingly warned the public that the number of people suffering from hunger in the world has been increasing considerably. According to UN estimates, there are more than 820 million individuals who are starving at present. In Africa alone, tens of millions of inhabitants of nations, such as South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, are undernourished. Armed confrontations, natural disasters and their effect on the way conflicts progress are considered to be the main reasons why famine is spreading throughout the world.
The latest report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that 9.2 % of the world population (from Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast and West Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe) “were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity in 2018”. The majority of undernourished people live in nations affected by wars or political crises. Since 2010, the number of armed conflicts has risen by 60%, mainly, as a result of civil wars and confrontations between nations that began during this period. More than 17 million people are in danger of starving to death in Yemen.
The risk of famine is high among the most vulnerable communities, i.e. refugees and internally displaced persons, whose numbers have been consistently increasing in recent years and have reached over 65 million. This means that every 113th individual on the planet is a refugee. As a result of the war in Syria, almost 11 million people have been forced to leave their homes.
According to UN forecasts, at present, armed conflicts already threaten inhabitants of Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen with starvation.
Another important reason why availability of food is a bigger issue now than before is that the number of natural disasters on this planet and their scale has increased as a result of climate change.