We all know the dangers of the COVID-19 virus that has spread around the world. But a more insidious threat is waiting in the wings. The World Food Program warns that poor countries are now facing a ‘COVID famine.’ It could claim millions of lives by the end of 2020 unless richer countries take immediate action.
Last week, World Food Program (WFP) chief David Beasley warned the UN Security Council that we’re on the brink of “multiple famines of biblical proportions.”
Beasley noted that there are already 821 million food insecure people in the world. He cautioned that an additional 130 million might find themselves at risk of starvation before the year is out.
“In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries,” Beasley said.
Oil-dependent countries most at risk
The list of countries at risk of famine remains sadly predictable. Yemen, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Haiti.
However, the COVID famine will put extra pressure on poor countries dependent on oil exports. In Nigeria, for example, 90% of the economy is dependent on energy exports. With plummeting oil prices, millions more people could be pushed to the brink of starvation.
In response, Beasley has been reaching out to world leaders. The WFP’s biggest funders are wealthy nations like the United States, Germany, the UK, and Japan.
“If we have money and access we can avert famine and we can truly avert catastrophic humanitarian death from starvation,” Beasley told the Associated Press. “But if we lose our funding, or we lose supply chain, there’s going to be disaster.”
That’s a real risk, as COVID fears have closed borders and ports as well as farms, roads, and everything in between.
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