Hunger pandemic looms: ‘Not corona itself, but consequences most victims’

Published: May 19, 2020  Updated: May 19, 2020 at 8:55 am EST

Miles of queues in front of food banks in South Africa, fighting over flour and cooking oil in the slums of Nairobi. And desperate families in Colombia hanging red rags from their windows, symbolizing hunger. They wonder what kills them sooner: the coronavirus, or their lack of food.

“I’ve been in the business for 20 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Margot van der Velden. “The corona crisis threatens a global food problem of unprecedented proportions.” This is despite the fact that there are surpluses in the Netherlands.

The World Food Programme’s emergency director is short of superlatives for other parts of the world. The United Nations food aid agency fears a double pandemic: after corona one of hunger.

Hundreds of thousands dead
If food distribution continues to be disrupted by lockdowns, dense borders and protectionist measures, the WFP expects 300,000 people a day to die of hunger in the coming months. The corona crisis nearly doubles the number of people in acute famine from 135 to 260 million by the end of this year.

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