UN Official warns of “famines of biblical proportions” in 2021

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2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of us. Sadly, for many people around the world, next year isn’t looking much better. According to the Head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), famines in 2021 are going to reach an unprecedented level.

Without adequate funds, millions of people will face starvation.

Famines in 2021

According to WFP head David Beasley, the organization needs fifteen billion dollars next year. Five billion is necessary just to avert famine. They need an additional ten billion to feed hungry and malnourished children. For many kids, the meals they get from the WFP school lunch programs are the only meals they eat on any given day.

In April, he said 135 million people were facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse”. In 2020, they were able to avert famine because world leaders provided money and stimulus packages. Many governments also deferred some of their debts. The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, could put another 130 million people on the brink of starvation.

“There’s about three dozen countries that could possibly enter the famine conditions if we don’t have the money we need,” Beasley said [1].

Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso are among the worst. Thanks to years of conflict and other issues, those countries all have areas that “have reached a critical hunger situation”. If conditions get worse, the people there risk experiencing famines in 2021.

Other countries that are in critical condition include Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somali, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and, Zimbabwe.

Nobel Peace Prize Giving a Leg Up

This year, the Norwegen Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP for their work in conflicts, disasters, and refugee camps. Conflict is one of the main drivers of hunger, and nearly sixty percent of the world’s hungry people live in conflict areas.

“War and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence,” said the committee [2].

According to Beasely, the prize has given the WFP a spotlight and megaphone. They are using this opporunity to warn world leaders about famines in 2021. They are also educating and sensitising them to what is happening around the world.

“Everybody now wants to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize winner,” he said, “And the response has really been good.” [1]

Beasley is telling leaders that they are not going to have the money to fund all their usual projects next year. He compares the situation to the Titanic, saying that we need to focus on the big icebergs right now. According to Beasley, those icebergs are famine, starvation, destabilization, and migration. 

Read: Want to double world food production? Return the land to small farmers.

Calling All Billionaires

Beasley plans on leveraging billionaires to help fund their funding deficit. Many of the world’s wealthiest people have made billions during the COVID-19 pandemic. His hope is that some of these individuals will step up to help as a one-time donation.

If the WFP can raise the money they need, they will likely be able to prevent famines in 2021 from happening.

“If I could get that coupled with our normal money, then we avert famine around the world,” he said [1].

He added that this will also help to minimize destabilisation and migration. Beasley also said that a COVID-19 vaccine may help boost economies around the world, which could help the situation somewhat. With deferred debt payments in middle and low-income countries restarting in January, however, the WFP is extremely concerned.

Many countries, however, are still struggling to control their COVID-19 situations. Thus, Beasley says that from a world famine perspective, 2021 is shaping up to be a very bad year.

Keep Reading: 17 Year Old Wins $250,000 Top Prize For Inventing Tool That Could Prevent Starvation

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