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Global Food Insecurity Hits Five-year High 

People stand in a queue to receive food aid, during the COVID outbreak at the Itireleng informal settlement, near Laudium suburb in Pretoria, South Africa, May 20, 2020.

The number of people around the world facing food insecurity reached a five-year high, the Global Network Against Food Crises said in a report released Wednesday.

The group, an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, governmental and non-governmental agencies, blames “conflict, economic shocks — including due to COVID-19 [and] extreme weather” for causing 155 million people to suffer from food insecurity.

This year is likely to be bad, as well.

“One year after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for 2021 and beyond is grim. Conflict, pandemic-related restrictions fueling economic hardship and the persistent threat of adverse weather conditions will likely continue driving food crises,” the EU, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program — founding members of the Global Network — together with the United States Agency for International Development, said in a joint statement released with the report.

FILE - People crowd to get food rations from a charity kitchen in Sana'a, Yemen, July 20, 2020.
FILE - People crowd to get food rations from a charity kitchen in Sana'a, Yemen, July 20, 2020.

The group said Africa was disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, with 98 million affected in 2020. Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Haiti were among other hot spots.

The group said conflict will likely be the main driver of food insecurity this year but added that COVID-19 and “weather extremes” will exacerbate the problem in vulnerable areas.

“Conflict and hunger are mutually reinforcing. We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the foreword of the report. “We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace.”