Conflict, climate and food prices pushes hunger crisis in Africa

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), conflict, climate change, and rising food and fuel prices are pushing approximately a quarter of Africans to starvation.

In the biggest crisis since 2017, some 346 million people in Africa are facing extreme food insecurity, which means they have likely experienced starvation. The total was around 286 million last year.

“The acute food insecurity situation in many of the countries where we serve – where people are already devastated by armed conflict – is tipping into famine-like conditions,” ICRC worldwide operations director Dominik Stillhart said.

Two years of conflict in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region has left millions of people enduring famine-like circumstances, as well as a hunger crisis in neighbouring areas.

Food instability in West Africa has been exacerbated by insurgencies in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, which is presently experiencing its worst food crisis on record.

Many conflict-affected nations, such as South Sudan and Somalia, are also among the worst-affected by climate change, according to Stillhart.

Drought is currently affecting 90 percent of Somalia, according to Stillhart. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 1.4 million children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished if this year’s rains do not arrive.

Drought destroyed 650,000 cattle in February alone, wreaking havoc on Somalis who relied on the animals for income, safety nets, and savings.

Meanwhile, worldwide food and gasoline prices are soaring, owing in part to the conflict in Ukraine, according to Stillhart.

Wheat prices, of which Russia and Ukraine are both major producers, have fallen from all-time highs reached last month, but are still 70 percent higher than in April 2021. Corn and oil prices have also risen significantly.

“Our call today is that the world’s attention on the agony of the people of Ukraine – which is, of course, awful – should not divert attention away from other crises,” Stillhart added.

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