Toronto Star

Chronic hunger increases globally after declining for decades


ROME— The number of chronicall­y hungry people in the world is on the rise again after a decade of declines, the United Nations reported Friday, citing intensifyi­ng conflicts, floods and droughts.

In an annual report on the state of food security, the UN. said 815 million people were chronicall­y under- nourished last year, 38 million more than the previous year. While the number is still below the 900 million hungry people registered in 2000, the UN. warned that the increase “is cause for great concern.”

Sixty per cent of the world’s chronicall­y hungry people were in areas experienci­ng man-made conflict.

“This is a shame. This is an indictment of humanity,” said David Beas- ley, of the World Food Program.

The UN has said some 20 million people face possible famine in parts of South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Overall, 11 per cent of the world’s population was hungry last year.

The heads of major UN agencies warned that without concerted action, the ambitious goal set by world government­s to end hunger and pre- vent malnutriti­on by 2030 will not be reached.

“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore,” they said.

While the report blamed conflicts as the main driver of food insecurity, hunger is worsened when conflict areas are also affected by climaterel­ated problems such as droughts and floods linked in part to the El Nino phenomenon.

And while malnutriti­on statistics are often seen as evidence of food scarcity, the U.N. noted that there are several types of undernouri­shment, including obesity.

In fact, the UN registered more overweight and obese children in most regions of the world and in all regions for adults. In 2016, the report said, 41 million children who were under age 5 were overweight.

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