The British charity Oxfam announced - today, Friday - that about 11 people die every minute due to starvation and malnutrition, a number that exceeds the current number of deaths due to the Corona pandemic.

And in a new shocking report issued by the organization, “Oxfam” said that about 11 people die every minute due to starvation and malnutrition, most likely, a number that exceeds the current number of deaths due to Corona, which is nearly 7 people per minute.

According to the report - titled "The Hunger Virus is Reproducing" - conflict remains the main cause of hunger since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, which has pushed more than half a million people into famine-like conditions, a more than 6-fold increase since 2020.

In general, 155 million people around the world are now living in a state of food insecurity at crisis level or more, an increase of about 20 million people over last year 2020. About two thirds of these people suffer from hunger primarily as a result of war and conflict in their countries, according to The report itself.

A Yemeni child lies on a bed in the malnutrition treatment department at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sana'a (Reuters)

The report also describes the enormous impact of the economic shocks, which were exacerbated in particular by the Corona pandemic and the climate crisis, which pushed tens of millions of people into hunger.

Mass unemployment and severe disruptions in food production have sent global food prices up 40%, their highest in more than a decade.

Gabriella Bouchet - Executive Director of Oxfam - says that the continuation of the conflict - in addition to the economic repercussions of the Corona pandemic and the worsening climate crisis - has pushed more than 520,000 people to the brink of famine.

Instead of addressing the pandemic, the conflicting parties fought each other, dealing a fatal blow to the millions of people already exhausted by climate disasters and economic shocks.

Bouchet indicated - in the same report - that the Corona pandemic also revealed the deep inequality in our world;

The wealth of the world's 10 richest people - 9 of them men - rose by $413 billion in the past year (2020), 11 times more than the declared need for the United Nations to fully fund its global humanitarian assistance.

Military spending on the rise

Despite the pandemic, global military spending has risen by $51 billion, enough to cover 6 and a half times what the United Nations says it needs to stop hunger.

Meanwhile, conflict and violence have led to the largest internal displacement ever, forcing 48 million people to flee their homes by the end of 2020.

According to the report, the warring parties continue to use starvation as a weapon of war, by depriving civilians of food and water and impeding humanitarian aid.

People cannot live in safety or find their food when their markets are bombed, their crops set on fire, or their livestock killed.

Some of the world's worst hunger hotspots - including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen - remain divided by conflict, and have seen hunger rise at intensity since last year.

An Ethiopian woman with children displaced from their village due to the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region, coinciding with UN warnings of famine in the region (Reuters)

About 400,000 people in Ethiopia's Tigray region are suffering from famine-like conditions according to a recent analysis by the Integrated Phase Classification of Food Insecurity, the largest number recorded since the Somalia famine in 2011, when a quarter of a million Somalis died.

More than half of Yemen's population is expected to face levels of food insecurity or worse this year (2021).

Corona and hunger

Hunger has also intensified in emerging hunger hotspots in middle-income countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil, which have also seen some of the sharpest increases in coronavirus infections.

The report indicated that measures to limit the spread of the Corona virus forced small businesses in Brazil, for example, to close, while more than half of working Brazilians lost their jobs.

Extreme poverty has nearly tripled, and the escalating infection with the coronavirus has devastated India's public health and income, particularly for migrant workers and farmers, who have been forced to leave their crops to rot in the fields.

In Yemen, the blockade, conflict and fuel crisis have more than doubled the prices of basic foodstuffs since 2016, humanitarian aid has halved, and the number of people in famine-like conditions is expected to nearly triple to 47,000. person in July 2022.

Children gather around a meal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which records high levels of hunger (Anatolia)

Also in the Sahel, countries most torn apart by conflict - such as Burkina Faso - have seen an increase in hunger by more than 200%, and in South Sudan - 10 years after its independence - more than 100,000 people are now facing famine-like conditions, and even Now less than 20% of the $1.68 billion UN humanitarian appeal for South Sudan is funded.

In this context, Bouchet explained that informal workers, women, displaced people and other marginalized groups are the most affected by conflict and hunger.

Women and girls are particularly affected, and are often the last to eat in the least amount of food available.

They also face impossible choices, such as having to choose between going to the market and risking physical or sexual abuse, or watching their families starve.

Recommendations

At the end of the report, the organization recommended - through its Executive Director - governments to prevent the conflict from continuing to exacerbate hunger at disaster level and to ensure instead that relief agencies reach those in need.

Donor governments must immediately and fully fund the United Nations humanitarian appeal to help save lives.

The members of the Security Council must also hold to account all those who use starvation as a weapon of war.

To prevent unnecessary deaths and push millions more into extreme poverty and hunger, governments - according to Oxfam's recommendations - must stop the deadly Corona disease;

Never has a vaccine for all been more urgent.

At the same time, they must build more equitable and sustainable food systems and support social protection programmes.

Since the start of the pandemic, Oxfam has reached nearly 15 million of the world's most vulnerable people through food, cash assistance and clean water, as well as farmer support projects.

It also works with more than 694 partners in 68 countries.

The organization aims to reach millions of people over the coming months, and is urgently seeking funding to support its programs worldwide.

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