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COVID Fallout Could Result in ‘Devastating Levels of Hunger’, WFP Says

FILE - Walter Ferreira, left, and Laura Dure cook stew at a soup kitchen that feeds about 300 people daily in Luque, Paraguay, May 11, 2020.

The United Nations’ World Food Program said in a statement Friday that people in at least 25 countries “are set to face devasating levels of hunger in coming months due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Three months ago the agency told the UN Security Council there was the risk of a famine of biblical proportions, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in the statement. “Today, our latest data tell us that, since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss.”

The WFP said it estimates it will need $4.9 billion for its response to “burgeoning food insecurity.” An additional $500 million will be needed to stop famine in the countries most at risk, including countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East.

The WFP costs are more than half of the $10 billion United Nation’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, the coalition’s largest ever appeal, launched Friday. The response plan covers a variety of humanitarian needs in more than 60 countries.

“The number of acute food insecure people in these at-risk countries could increase from an estimated 149 million pre-COVID-19 to 270 million before the end of the year if life-saving assistance is not provided urgently,” the statement said. “Recent estimates also suggest that up to 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as a result of pandemic-related disruptions to essential health and nutrition services.”