LONDON (AA) : Around 238 million people face high levels of acute food insecurity in 48 countries in 2023, according to the Global Report on Food Crises released Thursday.
Based on data available as of early August, the 2023 mid-year update showed that some 33.64 million people face “emergency conditions” in 36 countries while 128,600 people face “catastrophe conditions” in four countries.
The report’s findings indicated that South Sudan has the highest share at 63% followed by Yemen (52%-55%). Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Haiti and Sudan each have more than 40% of their population in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Phase 3 or above.
“In these 48 countries, 21.6 million more people face high levels of acute food insecurity than in 2022 (a 10 percent increase), bringing the number to 238 million,” it said.
The figures revealed that 27.2 million children under the age of five are affected by wasting in 21 food-crisis countries while an estimated 6.3 million pregnant and breastfeeding women are affected by acute malnutrition in 15 food-crisis countries with data.
Pointing out that the total number of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity this year will likely increase due to a data gap, the report said this is concerning, as no data is available for 25 countries or territories, 10 of which had data in 2022, accounting for 41 million people facing high levels of acute food insecurity.
They include countries with some of the largest food crises such as Myanmar, Syria and Ukraine.
Touching on the drivers of food insecurity in 2023, it mentioned conflicts, economic shocks and extreme weather events.
Citing the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the study said that food prices remain at historically high levels despite trending downward since their peak in March 2022 with the start of the war in Ukraine.
“The war in Ukraine continues to create uncertainty in global food markets,” said the report, adding the Kakhovka Dam breach in June this year and the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July are the two conflict-related main reasons.
Noting that the deal helped alleviate some of the upward pressures on global food prices after it was signed in July 2022, it said that while the immediate effect of the termination of the deal on international food prices was negligible, it “remains unclear what the long-term impact will be.”
Russia refused to extend the grain deal in July, saying the West has not met its obligations and that there were still restrictions on its own food and fertilizer exports. Moscow particularly criticized the restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance.
The grain deal was brokered by the UN and Türkiye last year and enabled Ukraine to ship grain via the Black Sea and succeeded in bringing down global food prices.