COVID-19: Beware the looming food shortage

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Coronavirus: All countries must help aid agencies to keep millions out of hunger’s way. The World Food Programme (WFP) last week raised a red flag that only a few noticed in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic. David Beasley, executive director of the United Nation’s food agency, warned that up to 250 million people would face hunger if the global community did not take urgent steps.

Beasley, who himself recovered from COVID-19 and briefed the UN Security Council via video-conferencing on April 21, named ten conflict-ridden and underdeveloped countries, including three in this region, and said these nations were most at risk. Some of these countries in East Africa and South Asia were suffering due to severe drought and locust invasion long before the pandemic struck.

Lockdowns and disruption of economic activity have landed a catastrophic blow to the poor who are struggling to eat without daily earnings. Their misery is expected to grow in the coming weeks and months when nations take the full impact of economic disruption. The worst hit will be the urban poor and those who live in conflict-ridden countries, including Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Rich and powerful countries have a moral and ethical responsibility to support international aid agencies and ensure that funding channels remain active during the pandemic. While governments may be overstretched to look beyond their territories at this time, assistance to UN agencies must not stop. A global recession predicted by experts will massively disrupt food supply chains, hitting the poor and the displaced.

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