UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned of an “unprecedented global hunger crisis,” saying next year could be worse.
“The war in Ukraine has compounded problems that have been brewing for years: climate disruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deeply unequal recovery,” Guterres told in an address to the UN Ministerial Conference on food security.
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022. And 2023 could be even worse,” he added.
He recalled his visit to the Sahel region of Africa last month, during which he said he was warned by leaders there a “dangerous situation could turn into a catastrophe” unless immediate action is taken.
He said the Horn of Africa is also suffering its worst drought in decades.
In the past two years, the number of severely food insecure people around the world has more than doubled to 276 million, according to the World Food Programme.
Guterres said fertilizers and energy prices rose in the past year, which he said would impact all harvests including rice and corn. It is feared to affect billions of people across Asia, Africa and the Americas.
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”