***says 25 countries to face severe hunger threat
By: Kazeem Biriowo
As a result of the COVID-19 impact, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)says its response to the burgeoning food insecurity is estimated at US$ 4.9 billion, with an additional $500 million being earmarked to prevent the outbreak of famine in countries most at risk.
It said 25 countries will face devastating levels of hunger in coming months due to the fallout from the pandemic.
In a statement released on Friday, WFP disclosed that this represents more than half of the updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, the largest appeal in the UN’s history, launched on Friday, for more than US$ 10 billion.
“The plan covers wide-ranging humanitarian needs in more than 60 countries, many of them already reeling from the impact of conflict, climate change and economic crisis,” it stated.
It said out of the countries with hunger threat, a large concentration of need is in Africa, adding that,”countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the Middle East and Asia – including middle-income countries – are also being ravaged by crippling levels of food insecurity.
It said the Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots, report, compiled by the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, predicted that the number of acute food insecure people in these at-risk countries may increase from an estimated 149 million pre-COVID-19 to 270 million before the end of the year if life-saving assistance is not urgently provided.
“Recent estimates also suggest that up to 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as a result of pandemic-related disruptions to essential health and nutrition services,” the statement added.
The WFP said to prevent the worst, it is scaling up to provide food assistance to an unprecedented 138 million people who face desperate levels of hunger as the pandemic tightens its grip on some of the most fragile countries on earth.