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Report: Hunger Levels Remain High in 52 Developing Countries

FILE - Maryam Sy comforts her 2-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying with hunger, May 1, 2012.

A new report says that despite progress in reducing hunger worldwide, hunger levels in at least 52 developing countries remain "serious" or "alarming." It says nearly 800 million people around the world still go hungry.

The report was released Monday by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerlife and Concern Worldwide.

The report says conflicts can be strongly associated with severe hunger, adding that the Central African Republic, Chad and Zambia have the highest hunger levels.

"More than 80 percent of those affected by armed conflict stay within their countries," said Welthungerlife president Barbel Dieckmann. "They are the ones who suffer most from severe food insecurity."

It says, however, that in contrast, hunger levels are down in Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda, which all went through civil wars in the 1990's and 2000's.

"Conflict is development in reverse," said Dominic MacSorley, CEO of Concern Worldwide. "The time has come for the international community to make conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution a far higher political priority."

The report says hunger levels in developing countries have fallen by 27 percent since 2000. Seventeen countries - among them Brazil, Croatia, Peru and Venezuela - have reduced their hunger scores by half since 2000.

It adds that "calamitous famines," described as those that kill more than 1 million people, seen to have vanished.