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United Nations warns against “global food emergency”

An additional 49 millions people may fall into extreme poverty this year due to COVID-19, Says UN chief.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General is calling for immediate action to avoid a “global food emergency,” stating more than 820 million people are hungry, about 144 million children under the age of 5 have stunted growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse, the recent report highlighted.

Guterres asserted at the launch of the policy brief on food security on June 9 that, “There is more than enough food in the world to feed our population of 7.8 billion people. But, today, more than 820 million people are hungry. And some 144 million children under the age of 5 are stunted – more than 1 in 5 children worldwide. Our food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,”

Significantly, Guterres launched a policy briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition on June 9, saying around 49 million more people may fall into extreme poverty because of the pandemic. “That means designating food and nutrition services as essential, while implementing appropriate protections for food workers.”

As per report, Guterres stressed the need to preserve critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups and to position food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.

The UN chief also warned that, “The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand.” He stated food and nutrition services must be designated as essential, and food workers must be protected. The UN chief, countries must ensure access to safe, nutritious foods, particularly for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and other at-risk groups, he added.

He stated that, “Countries need to scale up support for food processing, transport and local food markets, and they must keep trade corridors open to ensure the continuous functioning of food systems,” he asserted, adding that nations must ensure that relief and stimulus packages reach the most vulnerable, including meeting the liquidity needs of small-scale food producers and rural businesses”.

Despite the same, the UN chief has warned that, Nearly 49 million more people are likely to fall into extreme poverty this year due to the COVID-19 crisis and every percentage point drop in the global GDP would mean hundreds of thousands of additional children will have stunted growth, calling on countries to act immediately to ensure global food security.

Consequently, He warned that unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults. Looking beyond the pandemic, the UN Secretary-General called for transforming food systems to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable world. Thus, He urged countries to build food systems which address the needs of both producers and workers, and to eradicate hunger by ensuring more people have access to healthy, nutritious food.

(Author, Trilok Singh is with CEO here).

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