By Lisa Zengarini
Caritas Internationalis, along with 263 faith-based and civil society organizations, is calling on Heads of States to urgently offer support to “the 270 million people facing hunger, starvation or famine” across the globe.
In an open letter, the relief agencies have urged world leaders to provide an additional $5.5 billion in funding to reach out to more than 34 million people who are presently on the verge of famine and have reiterated the UN call for a global ceasefire to prevent hunger and further loss of lives.
Hunger is not a fatality
“Every day, we bear witness to suffering and resilience”, reads the letter. “In Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo , Honduras, Venezuela, Nigeria, Haiti, CAR, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sudan and beyond we help people who are doing all they can to simply get through one more day”.
“These people are not starving, they are being starved”, the aid agencies remark, reminding that hunger is not a fatality, but the consequence of conflict and violence; inequality; climate change; loss of land, jobs or prospects and, over the last year, of the COVID-19 crisis that has left the poorest even further behind
Food aid needed immediately
Stressing that “it is human actions that are driving famine and hunger and it is our actions that can stop the worst impacts”, the open letter, therefore, calls on State leaders to address the crisis by providing an additional $5.5 billion of funding for food assistance. “This assistance must begin immediately and reach as directly as possible the people most in need, now, so they can take action to feed themselves today and in the future”, the NGO’s say, stressing that “all countries should contribute their full and fair share, without diverting resources”.
The call for a global ceasefire
They also urge governments to enhance efforts “to end conflict and violence in all its forms” and to immediately heed the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. The call was made by Antonio Guterres in March 2020 to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in a UN Security Council resolution supported by civil society organizations and leaders, including Pope Francis.
Invest in alleviating poverty and hunger
Finally, the relief agencies urge States and all stakeholders “to invest in alleviating poverty and hunger, in giving people the tools they need to build more resilient futures for themselves, sustainably adapt to climate change and guard against the shocks of COVID-19. This – they say - will help to prevent future conflict and displacement” and “future hunger and famines”. “There is no place for famine and starvation in the 21st century. History will judge us all by the actions we take today”, the letter concludes.
Increase in food insecurity
Since 2019 the number of people suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity across the world has nearly doubled, due to the combined effects of armed conflict, climate change and poverty. The far-reaching impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has left many countries and communities vulnerable to severe economic downfall, exacerbating poverty and further endangering food security.