The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned Tuesday that expected cuts in food rations could push an additional 24 million people into emergency hunger over the next 12 months – a 50 percent increase on the current level.
The agency said Tuesday that it has been struggling to meet the global need for food assistance while facing a funding shortfall of more than 60 percent this year – the highest in WFP’s 60-year history. And for the first time ever, WFP has seen contributions decreasing while needs steadily increase.
“With the number of people around the world facing starvation at record levels, we need to be scaling up life-saving assistance – not cutting it,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.
“If we don’t receive the support we need to avert further catastrophe, the world will undoubtedly see more conflict, more unrest, and more hunger. Either we fan the flames of global instability, or we work quickly to put out the fire,” she added.
The WFP estimates that there are currently 345 million people facing acute food insecurity (IPC3+) worldwide, with 40 million of these in emergency levels of hunger (IPC4). These are people forced to take desperate measures to survive and are at risk of dying from malnutrition. WFP’s food assistance is a vital lifeline, often the only thing separating them from starvation.
Experts at the agency fear that a humanitarian ‘doom loop’ is being triggered, where WFP is being forced to save only the starving, at the cost of the hungry.
The agency reported that massive reductions have already been implemented in almost half of its operations, including significant cuts in hot-spots such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jordan, Palestine, South Sudan, Somalia, and Syria.
The ripple effects of these cuts in life-saving aid will cause emergency levels of hunger to skyrocket even higher.
“There’s only one way out of this,” the WFP chief said. “We need to fund emergency operations to feed the hungry today while simultaneously investing in long-term solutions that address the root causes of hunger. Our shared goal must be ending the vicious, unsustainable, and costly cycle of crisis and response.”