The UN says the ranks of the world’s hungry last year rose by 10 million and reports that this year’s coronavirus pandemic could drive as many as 130 million more people into chronic hunger. The grim assessment was included in the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, an annual report published by the five United Nations agencies that created it on Monday.
The UN agencies reported that nearly 690 million people, or nearly 9 percent of the world ‘s population, starved last year, an rise of 10 million since 2018 and almost 60 million since 2014. The report noted that after steadily declining for decades, chronic hunger “slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.”
As a consequence of the pandemic, food supply shortages, loss of livelihoods and the failure of people employed overseas to send remittances home to their families indicate that exposure to nutritious diets becomes “much more challenging for the poorest and vulnerable communities,” the UN agencies concluded. Oxfam, a humanitarian group dedicated to fighting poverty, called the UN report “highly alarming.” In a statement, Oxfam called on governments to fully fund the United Nation’s COVID-19 appeal and to cancel the debts of low-income countries so resources could be freed up to tackle “the surge in hunger linked to the pandemic.”