Panama City – In Latin America and the Caribbean, between December 2021 and March 2022, the number of people with severe food insecurity exceeded 500,000. The region is struggling to deal with the collapse of COVID-19 and, coupled with the consequences, warns the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) about the conflict in Ukraine.
According to a recent study conducted by the organization, food insecurity is currently affecting 9.3 million people in the countries where WFP is present in the region. In the worst-case scenario where the conflict in Ukraine continues unabated, that number could reach 13.3 million.
“If the conflict in Ukraine continues, millions of people could be driven into poverty and hunger. The region is already addressing COVID-19, addressing rising costs and extreme climate. “We are,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s Director of Latin America and the Caribbean. “We were able to return to the peak of food insecurity seen during the pandemic, as loss of work and income, food inflation and other drivers hit the most vulnerable.”
Commodity and energy prices have skyrocketed since the conflict in Ukraine. Rising food inflation threatens the region, with some countries relying heavily on grain imports. The Caribbean islands, which import most of their food, feel that they are at the mercy of rising sea shipping costs.
Food and oil price increases are also pushing up WFP operating costs. Due to the supply chain disruption associated with COVID-19, the costs associated with purchasing and shipping food have already risen. WFP buys rice, black beans, lentils and vegetable oils in the region. The average cost per ton of these four basic commodities increased by 27% between January and April 2022 and by 111% between January 2019 and April 2022. WFP cash transfers to vulnerable groups have also been affected.
“This year of unprecedented needs, our humanitarian dollar has reached its limits. While the number of hungry people continues to grow, the gap between our funding needs and the resources available is It continues to expand, “Castro said.
WFP is urgently demanding US $ 315 million to cover regional operating costs over the next six months.
As food insecurity rises, the region is preparing for its third above-average Atlantic hurricane season starting in June, potentially driving more people to starvation.
The United Nations World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food aid to pave the way for peace, stability and prosperity for those who recover from the effects of conflict, disasters and climate change. increase.
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Elio Rujano, WFP / Panama,
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