After a fire in a refugee camp in Ukhia in the southeastern Cox’s Bazar district on March 24, 2021, children are seen consuming food provided by NGOs and social organizations.
Yousuf Tushar | LightRakete | Getty Images
LONDON – According to a new Oxfam report released on Friday, the number of people who died of starvation increased six-fold over the past year to surpass deaths from Covid-19.
Up to 11 people die of starvation and malnutrition every minute as the proportion of people suffering from starvation-like conditions has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, the global charity said in a paper titled “The Hunger Virus Multiplies” .
For comparison: an estimated 7 people die of Covid-19 every minute.
The statistics are overwhelming, but we must not forget that these numbers are individual people exposed to unimaginable suffering. One person is too much too.
President and CEO, Oxfam America
Main causes of extreme hunger
War and conflict remain the leading cause of hunger, accounting for two-thirds of hunger-related deaths worldwide. However, the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and economic shocks as a result of Covid-19, as well as the worsening climate crisis, have starved tens of millions, the report said.
Global food prices are also up 40%, the highest increase in more than 10 years, the report said.
“The statistics are staggering, but we mustn’t forget that these numbers are made up of individuals exposed to unimaginable suffering. Even one person is too much, ”said Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America.
A relative prays on a cremation site during the final rites of a Covid-19 victim.
Majority world | Universal picture group | Getty Images
Oxfam named war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen among the world’s worst hunger hotspots.
“Hunger continues to be used as a weapon of war to deprive civilians of food and water and to hamper humanitarian aid,” said Maxman. “People cannot live safely or find food when their markets are bombed and crops and livestock are destroyed.”
Meanwhile, food insecurity has worsened in what the charity calls “emerging epicentres of hunger” such as India, South Africa and Brazil – some of the countries hardest hit by Covid-19 infections.
But even countries with relatively resilient food systems like the US have been rocked by the pandemic and recent climate shocks, the report said.
Hurting the most vulnerable people
In any case, vulnerable groups like women, displaced people and informal workers are hardest hit, Maxman said.
“Marginalized groups are hardest hit by conflict and hunger. Too often women and girls eat last and least. ” She said.
Governments must prevent conflict from fueling catastrophic hunger.
President and CEO, Oxfam America
The spike in hunger-related deaths comes in a year when global military spending rose by $ 51 billion – enough to cover six and a half times what the United Nations believes it needs to stop hunger.
Meanwhile, the world’s 10 richest people have risen by $ 413 billion in the past year – 11 times the estimated UN cost of global humanitarian aid.
“Governments must prevent conflict from fueling catastrophic hunger and instead ensure that aid agencies reach those in need,” Maxman said, calling for multilateral support from policymakers.
“We need the US to take the lead in ending this hunger crisis by pushing for an end to the conflicts that fuel this famine, providing the vital resources to save lives now, and helping communities build a more secure future help.”