Sun | Oct 25, 2020

UN food chief urges rich to help keep millions from starving

Published:Friday | September 18, 2020 | 9:07 AM
In this November 14, 2008, file photo, a woman receives a bag of maize meal from the World Food Program in the town of Rutshuru, eastern Congo. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The World Food Program chief warned Thursday that millions of people are closer to starvation because of the deadly combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic and he urged donor nations and billionaires to help feed them and ensure their survival.

The UN programme’s chief David Beasley told the UN Security Council that the response to his warning five months ago of a potential “hunger pandemic” had averted famine and kept people alive but the work wasn’t done.

The WFP and its partners were going all out to reach as many as 138 million people this year — “the biggest scale-up in our history,” he said.

But more was needed to help “the 270 million people marching toward the brink of starvation.”

Already, 30 million rely solely on WFP for food to survive and will die without it, Beasley said.

He warned famine was possible in up to three dozen countries and could overwhelm places already weakened by conflict.

Beasley cited Congo where violence has increased and instability already has forced 15.5 million people near starvation. He also said a lack of funding has forced cutbacks in assistance to feed people in Yemen, which faces the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. And in Nigeria and South Sudan, millions more people have become food insecure because of the pandemic, he said.

He said WFP needs $4.9 billion to feed 30 million people who will die without the program’s assistance for a year.

“It’s time for those who have the most to step up, to help those who have the least in this extraordinary time in world history,” Beasley said.

“Worldwide, there are over 2,000 billionaires with a net worth of $8 trillion,” the former South Carolina governor said, noting reports that some of the wealthiest Americans have made “billions upon billions” during the pandemic.

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