The situation in several hunger-stricken countries is deteriorating as conflict pushes more people to migrate and obstructs the access of humanitarian organizations.
A report released by the World Food Programme (WFP) titled, ‘At the root of exodus: food security, conflict and international migration,’ finds that an increase in the number of people affected by food insecurity of 1% leads to a 1.9% increase of people forced to migrate.
May 2017: The situation in famine-stricken countries in several regions of the world continues to deteriorate. Reports and updates published over the last few weeks by humanitarian organizations show that the number of people affected by food insecurity and acute hunger is increasing while humanitarian organizations face funding challenges and barriers to reaching affected populations.
This article updates our reporting on the world’s evolving hunger crisis and features a report by the World Food Programme (WFP) analyzing the links between food insecurity, conflict and migration. While Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2) calls for ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, the deteriorating situation, mainly in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen with regard to human security and food security, undermines opportunities for achievement of all development goals and priorities. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Conflict Deepening Hunger Crises in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on International Community Mobilizing Response to Hunger Crises]
At a recent session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Council, José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, and David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warned against ignoring the threat of famine, pointing to the rising death toll in countries such as north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Noting that conflict is a common root cause of food insecurity in these countries, they stressed that the famine response operations of both FAO and WFP are severely underfunded. [UN Press Release] [FAO Press Release]
The vicious circle of food insecurity, migration and conflict
A report released by the WFP spotlights the complex interactions between food insecurity, migration and conflict. The publication titled, ‘At the root of exodus: food security, conflict and international migration,’ finds that an increase in the number of people affected by food insecurity of 1% leads to a 1.9% increase of people forced to migrate. Food insecurity also increases the incidence and intensity of armed conflict, which increases conflict-related migration by 0.4% for each additional year of conflict. Migration, on the other hand, can increase food insecurity for those who leave their home country as well as for those who stay behind. While migrants often lack access to food during their journey and in host countries, non-migrating family members often carry the financial burden of migration. Obligations to repay such debts increase food insecurity. Next to analyzing current trends and dynamics of migration and conflict and global drivers of migration, the report includes personal accounts of refugees from Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and their host countries Greece and Italy. Among other actions, the report recommends a two-pronged approach that addresses the root causes of migration while continuing to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need. [WFP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [At the root of exodus: food security, conflict and international migration]
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports that, after two years of conflict, 19 million people in Yemen require humanitarian protection and assistance, with 17 million considered food insecure and seven million suffering from starvation.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports that, after two years of conflict, 19 million people in Yemen require humanitarian protection and assistance, with 17 million considered food insecure and seven million suffering from starvation. The conflict has displaced 3.3 million, pushed many more into poverty, and sharply reduced people’s self-reliance and livelihoods. At the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Response in Yemen held on 25 April 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, UNDP called for increased support to the UN’s Humanitarian Response for Yemen, which seeks to raise US$2.1 billion to support people affected by the crisis. [UNDP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNDP Response to the Crisis in Yemen] [Statement by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick]
In Somalia, drought, disease and displacement have led to an increase in the projected number of malnourished children by 50%, reports the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The projected number has now reached 1.4 million, with more than 275,000 children suffering from or at risk of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. In a press release, UNICEF states that migrating women and children are often subject to robbery and violence. Children also face an elevated risk of becoming sick while on the move. [UNICEF Press Release] [UN Press Release]
Central African Republic
Hunger relief in the Central African Republic is increasingly hindered by violence against humanitarian organizations, leading four organizations to suspend their relief activities. The Central African Republic was placed on the list of high-risk countries after 33 incidents against humanitarians were recorded during the first three months of the year. According to the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 2.2 million currently depend on aid, accounting for half of the country’s population. After more than a decade of instability, the provision of basic services has collapsed, with particularly severe consequences for children. UNICEF estimates that the lives and futures of more than one million children are under threat, calling for urgent action for their protection. UNICEF states that it is facing a US$32.6 million funding gap, as its 2016 appeal for support was only 56% funded. [UN Press Release] [OCHA Press Release] [UNICEF Press Release]
Humanitarian operations also face hurdles in Syria where a growing number of people are displaced or trapped in besieged and hard-to reach places. During a visit to Syria, WFP Executive Director David Beasley appealed to officials to guarantee “regular, unimpeded and sustained” humanitarian access to enable WFP and other organizations to continue to deliver relief aid. Beasley also commended Lebanon for its help in accommodating and providing food assistance to more than 700,000 Syrian refugees. [WFP Press Release] [UN Press Release]
In Nigeria, FAO is supporting families that were displaced by violence related to Boko Haram in growing their own food to avoid becoming dependent on food aid. The project seeks to enable families to produce locally-known crops for their own consumption and to generate cash income to cover their daily needs. In a press release, FAO describes how growing a fruit dubbed “the garden toothbrush” for its use in oral hygiene has helped women survivors of Boko Haram attacks to restore their dignity and hope to regain self-reliance. The project is part of FAO’s Lake Chad Basin Crisis Response Strategy, which aims to strengthen the resilience of crisis-stricken populations by combining emergency relief with longer-term activities to restore access to resources and sustainable growth of livelihoods. [FAO Press Release] [Lake Chad Basin Crisis – Response Strategy (2017-2019)]