Around 193 million people suffered from acute food insecurity in 2021, said the United Nations in a new report, a number that's growing at an "alarming rate".
The figure in 2021 marked an increase of 40 million people from the previous year with the situation only expected to worsen as the war in Ukraine continues, according to the Global Report on Food Crisis.
The cause of this “appalling” increase was a “toxic triple combination” of conflict, the economic effects of COVID-19 and extreme weather, said the report, which was jointly produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the European Union, and the World Food Programme.
However, conflict had the most impact, causing 139 million people to go into food insecurity in 24 countries.
“Today, if more is not done to support rural communities, the scale of the devastation in terms of hunger and lost livelihoods will be appalling,” the report said.
“Urgent humanitarian action is needed on a massive scale to prevent that from happening”.
Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and the Republic of the Congo were some of the most impacted countries, the report added.
And drought, conflict and the increasing cost of food could cause Somalia to experience the world’s worst food crisis this year.
The Global Report on Food Crisis report warned that the situation in Somalia and other African countries could worsen because of the war in Ukraine, as many in the region rely on wheat and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine.
“When we look at the consequences of what’s happening as a result of the war in Ukraine, there is real cause for concern of how this will amplify the acute food needs that exist in these food crisis countries," said Rein Paulsen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s office of emergencies and resilience.
The report called for $1.4 billion in aid to help farmers in the regions at risk.