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Food is best vaccine against chaos, insists UN World Food Programme head – Achieving Zero Hunger – The world has a long way to go

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UN Security Council. Photo: WFP/ Shannon Howard

A United Nations report says Tens of millions more people are likely to go hungry this year because of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN World Food Programme (WFP)  said today as it announced plans for a massive boost to its global aid operation so it can reach them. World Food Programme: ‘The needs in Syria have never been greater’.

The report says: ‘’People are facing unprecedented levels of hunger as multiple shocks hit the war-torn country. This news is enough warning to people who speak about war every so often and to millions of people who allow themselves to be misled into taking hasty, ill-conceived and foolish steps when dialogue remains a potent option for solving human disagreements. Behind nine years of news reports on tragedies in Syria are families who’ve lost those closest to them, been forced to flee, and who’ve seen their homes and livelihoods destroyed.

We can’t end hunger if we don’t end conflict’  A United Nations Resolution captioned: ‘We can’t end hunger if we don’t end conflict’ as adopted by the UN Security Council recognizes link between conflict and food insecurity The resolution on hunger and conflict was approved unanimously by the UN Security Council. Photo: WFP/ Shannon Howard

Sponsored by Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Sweden, and adopted unanimously, the resolution calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international law to protect civilians, including by abstaining from targeting sites that are necessary to produce food — such as farms, markets, mills, water systems, food processing and storage sites — and distribute.

The resolution condemns the use of starvation as a weapon of war and calls for humanitarian personnel to be granted safe and unhindered access to civilians in armed conflicts. “The Security Council vote is a huge step forward in the effort to break the cycle of conflict and hunger,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley, praising the leadership shown by Security Council members.

Of the 13 largest food crises in the world today, 10 — Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — are conflict-related. WFP is on the frontlines providing food assistance in all of these countries as well as in those receiving refugees fleeing conflict.

POLITICAL INSTABILITY Political instability and displacement associated with conflict are potent drivers of food crises and lead to increased expenditure on food assistance. WFP estimates that improved humanitarian access in the 20 countries facing the worst food crises would generate savings for US$ 997 million per year in assistance. The food assistance-related ‘peace and stability’ dividend would also be significant — WFP alone would save US$ 2.4 billion a year from increased stability in the large number conflict-affected countries it works in.

 THE ZERO HUNGER PROGRAMME: Instead of thinking about wars and dislocations to peace, let us think of ways for sustainable living. Let us educate the masses about the Zero Hunger Programme adopted by the World Food Programme. Every day too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 821 million people – one in nine – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night. Even more – one in three – suffer from some form of malnutrition.

Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is one of the great challenges of our time. Not only do the consequences of not enough – or the wrong – food cause suffering and poor health, they also slow progress in many other areas of development like education and employment. In 2015 the global community adopted the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to improve people’s lives by 2030. Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and is the priority of the World Food Programme.

Every day, WFP and its partners work to bring us closer to a zero hunger world. With our humanitarian food assistance, we provide nutritious food to those in urgent need. Meanwhile, our complementary programmes address the root causes of hunger, building the resilience of communities, so we don’t need to keep saving the same lives each year.

The world has made great progress in reducing hunger: There are 216 million fewer hungry people than in 1990-92, despite a 1.9 billion increase in the world’s population. But there is still a long way to go, and no one organization can achieve Zero Hunger if it works alone. If we want to see a world free of hunger by 2030, governments, citizens, civil society organizations and the private sector must collaborate to invest, innovate and create lasting solutions.