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Food security sharply deteriorated in Middle East: UN

28 March 2017 18:30


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned that ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have sharply deteriorated food security and reduced nutrition levels, leaving approximately 30 million people unsure of their next meal.

The FAO Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in the Near East and North Africa, released on March 27, stated that the intensity of conflicts and protracted crises have led to the prevalence of food insecurity in the areas over the past five years.

“Countries such as Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have rates that are among the highest in the world, reflecting the devastating impacts of the ongoing conflicts on their food security and nutrition situation,” the UN agency’s report pointed out.

“The region is facing unprecedented challenges to its food security due to multiple risks arising from conflicts, water scarcity and climate change,” FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Abdessalam Ould Ahmed said.

He added that regional countries need to implement long-term and comprehensive sustainable water management in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030.

“A peaceful and stable environment is an absolute pre-condition for farmers to respond to the challenges of water scarcity and climate change,” the senior FAO official commented.

The FAO Regional Overview underlined that water scarcity and climate change are the most fundamental challenges to ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030.

The report further noted that Syria crisis has deepened between 2015 and 2016, leaving more than half of the population in need of food assistance and 4.8 million refugees, who have mostly taken refuge in neighboring countries.

The numbers of people suffering from food insecurity and internally displacement are also rising in Iraq and Yemen, the FAO said.

A general view taken on March 16, 2017 shows a school that was damaged in a Saudi airstrike in the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has said that a third of Yemen’s 22 provinces are on the brink of famine, warning that more than half of the country’s population is going hungry.

“We are deeply concerned that Yemen is on the brink of famine,” Bettina Luescher, a spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme, told reporters in Geneva on March 24.

“Out of the 22 (provinces), seven are in emergency phase four, and that is one level before declaring a famine,” she said.

Luescher stressed that even the Yemenis that are lucky enough to get aid are not receiving all the nutrients they need as full rations cannot be afforded.

Yemen’s Legal Center of Rights and Development announced on Saturday that the Saudi campaign against its impoverished southern neighbor has claimed the lives of over 12,040 Yemenis and left more than 20,000 others wounded.

The center added that there were a total of 2,568 children and 1,870 women among the fatalities, noting that the atrocious onslaught had also destroyed 757 schools and institutes, 111 university facilities, 271 factories besides 1,520 bridges and roads.

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