EC Global Report: Food insecurity the grim reality for 124m trapped in conflict zones

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Polhansen
©iStock/Polhansen
The European Commission (EC) warns food insecurity and the famine crisis are likely to deepen as a report paints an uncertain future for the 124 million people living in developing countries and conflict zones.

Along with war, the Commission’s Global Report on Food Crises​identifies extreme climatic events and excessive prices of staple foods as factors that often act together to restrict or stop the supply of food.

Food crises remain one of the most pressing catastrophes worldwide,” ​said Tibor Navracsics, commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

“In Africa alone, over a hundred million people are facing food insecurity with some on the brink of famine. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.

The report identifies the worst food crises in 2017 occurred in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan, where nearly 32 million people were classed as food-insecure.

Famine IPC Phase 5

In February 2017, two counties of South Sudan were placed in ‘Famine IPC Phase 5,’ the fifth stage of food insecurity, which meant at least one in five households faced an extreme lack of food.

Additionally, more than 30% of children under the age of five were suffering from acute malnutrition with at least two people out of every 10,000 dying each day.

Comparisons between the 45 countries included in both editions of the Global Report on Food Crises reveals an increase of 11 million people—an 11% rise—in the number of food-insecure people needing aid.

The report said the rise could largely be attributed to new or intensified conflict or insecurity in countries such as Yemen, northern Nigeria, the Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar.

Persistent drought has also played a major role, causing consecutive poor harvests in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity in eastern and southern Africa.

“Let us be clear: we still have huge challenges ahead of us, and the EU will continue to work relentlessly for food security around the world,”​ said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, who presented the report this week in Rome.

“When future generations look back on this time in history, I want to say that we were not only able to diagnose the problem, but we were also able to prescribe the right solutions."

Addressing short-term issues

In a short-term outlook for this year, the report predicted continued food insecurity in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as Libya and the central Sahel (Mali and Niger).

Yemen was singled out as a region that would suffer the largest food crisis, exacerbated by restricted access, economic collapse and outbreaks of disease.

However, in Southern Africa, the situation was predicted to improve slightly compared to 2016/17 due to bumper cereal production in 2017 and falling food prices.

The report warned thought that vulnerable people would require support to “build their resilience to future climate shocks so they can recover more quickly”.

“No significant improvement in food security can be expected globally until peace is achieved and livelihoods restored, “the​ report said.

“Food security, nutrition and livelihoods-based interventions will be vital to save lives, build resilience and contribute to sustaining peace.”

European aid in action

In outlining measures taken by the European Union to alleviate the situation, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management said, "The EU is one of the world's leading donors in humanitarian food assistance”.

“We are now strengthening a coordinated response, covering humanitarian and development aspects, to face the increasing complexity of crises. It is only by working together that we can become the architects of a future without hunger".

The long-term strategy outlined by the EU combines humanitarian aid, development assistance and peace building support to increase the resilience of people and communities in partner countries​.

The EU reckon it has provided around €8.5bn of funding between 2014 and 2020.

For the four major food crises in 2017, the European Union contributed over €750m to joint humanitarian and development support, and EU Member States additionally provided over €1bn.

Led by the Food Security Information Network, the report also includes collaborations with EU-Joint Research Centre scientists, the FAO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

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