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COVID-19 Could Force More Than 19 Million People Into Famine

World Vision today warned that more than 19 million people are at risk of famine in 12 of the world’s most fragile countries due to a deadly mix of conflict, the economic impacts of COVID-19 and climate-related natural disasters.

The NGO fears that if the international community does not increase funding to meet urgent food needs, millions could die.

More than half of those at risk are children. Andrew Morley, World Vision International President and CEO, said: “Children across the world face devastating hunger every single day. The signs are clear to see. We need funds to support children across the world – and we need them right now.”

Countries that were dealing with crises such as conflict before the COVID-19 pandemic are at the greatest risk of famine.Democratic Republic of Congo, a country mired in conflict for decades, now has 5.7million people at risk of starvation. This represents a 77% increase on 2019.

“COVID-19 is one more shock for the most vulnerable children living in fragile contexts who face multiple crises, including armed conflict, which deeply affect their access to nutritious food. Restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus continue to hit the incomes of poor families the hardest, meaning they don’t have enough money to purchase food. Conflict and COVID-19 are a disastrous combination, making it incredibly difficult to get help to the children and families who need it most,” said Mr Morley.

Acute hunger has been climbing for the past 4 years, reaching a peak of 135 million in 2019 due to a deadly mix of conflict and increased climate and economic shocks—COVID-19 has pushed this trend into overdrive. In April 2020 the Head of the World Food Programme warned that the number of people facing acute hunger could double due to COVID-19.

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