ABUJA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warns that it may soon be forced to cut food rations to more than half a million women, men and children in northeastern Nigeria unless urgent funding is secured to continue lifesaving operations in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

The cuts would come just as severe hunger reaches a five-year high in the country in the wake of years of conflict and insecurity – a situation that has been worsened by the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply. Moreover, the number of internally-displaced surpassed 2 million in September 2021 – reaching another grim milestone.

“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our lifesaving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” said Chris Nikoi, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Regional Director for West Africa following a recent visit to Nigeria.

If at least $55 million is not received in a matter of weeks, the U.N. World Food Programme will have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it serves – where assistance is already prioritized for the most vulnerable – as early as November.

“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Nikoi added.

The number of internally displaced people – people forced to flee their homes in search for safety – in northeast Nigeria has been rising steadily and reached a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021, while current food security analyses show that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria do not know where their next meal is coming from. Additionally, over 1 million children are malnourished.

Continued attacks on communities by non-state armed groups, harsh hunger season conditions amid an economy dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19, high food prices and a severe reduction in household purchasing power – all contribute to a bleak outlook for the most vulnerable people in northeast Nigeria.

Despite increasing needs, the U.N. World Food Programme may soon be unable to sustain lifesaving operations in conflict-riddled northeastern Nigeria. Without additional resources, the food assistance agency will run out of funds for emergency food distribution and nutrition support by the end of October 2021.

“Cutting food assistance will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence” said Edward Kallon, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria. “As we call upon our partners to step up their support in response to the growing needs, I would like to say thank you to those who have stood with us over the years in providing the much-needed humanitarian assistance in the country.”

For five years, the U.N. World Food Programme has provided lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to severely food insecure people, displaced families in camps and to vulnerable people living in host communities thanks to generous contributions from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America and private donors.

This year, relying on the continued generosity of donor partners, the U.N. World Food Programme ramped up its response to address rising hunger and the impact of COVID-19, targeting 1.9 million displaced people in Nigeria with lifesaving food assistance. To sustain humanitarian operations in northeast Nigeria until March 2022, the U.N. World Food Programme urgently requires $197 million.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media and @wfp_Nigeria

Rome – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is honored to accept the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize on December 10 at 1 p.m. (CET), in a ceremony that recognizes our role in fighting hunger and fostering peace in conflict-affected areas.

U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley will receive the award on behalf of the agency and its 20,000 staff in a virtual ceremony that can be viewed worldwide here on the Nobel site.

World Food Program USA is hosting a Facebook Live event – The People’s Prize – at 7am ET here – a celebration of the remarkable history, people and partners who are behind the U.N. World Food Programme winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and reactions from U.N. World Food Programme staff around the world.

The Nobel recognition comes as famine again threatens millions of people, especially in four conflict-affected countries—Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria (northeast) and Burkina Faso, amid an alarming convergence of conflict, hunger and the COVID-19 pandemic.

MEDIA RESOURCES:

  • For information on the U.N. World Food Programme work as a first step to peace see here.
  • For photos, see here for footage of U.N. World Food Programme operations, including hunger hotspots, see here.
  • Broadcast quality footage and photos of the Nobel handover will be available afterwards. Direct your request to jonathan.dumont@wfp.org.
  • For interviews with country directors, staff and spokespeople, check here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

For more information please contact:

  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867, shaza. moghraby@wfp.org
  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993, steve.taravella@wfp.org

ROME – The world has been put on a heightened famine alert with a new report by two United Nations agencies that contains a stark warning; four countries contain areas that could soon slip into famine if conditions there undergo “any further deterioration over the coming months.” These are Burkina Faso in West Africa’s Sahel region, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. The Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots – issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – describes a toxic combination of conflict, economic decline, climate extremes and the COVID-19 pandemic that is driving people further into the emergency phase of food insecurity.

Parts of the population in the four hotspots of highest concern are already experiencing a critical hunger situation, with the report warning that escalations in conflict as well as a further reduction in humanitarian access could lead to a risk of famine.

But these four countries are far from being the only red flag on a world map that shows that acute food insecurity levels are reaching new highs globally, driven by a combination of factors, the report notes. Another 16 countries are at high risk of rising levels of acute hunger.

The aim of the Hotspots report is to inform urgent action that can be taken now to avoid a major emergency – or series of emergencies – in three to six months from today. How the situation evolves in the highest risk countries will depend on conflict dynamics, food prices, and the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food systems, rainfall and harvest outcomes, humanitarian access, and the readiness of donors to continue funding humanitarian operations.

“This report is a clear call to urgent action,” said Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience. “We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people’s ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger. We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario.”

“We are at a catastrophic turning point. Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time. When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost. If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” said Margot van der Velden, U.N. World Food Program Director of Emergencies.

“In 2011, Somalia suffered a famine that killed 260,000 people. The famine was declared in July, but most people had already died by May. We cannot let this happen again. We have a stark choice; urgent action today, or unconscionable loss of life tomorrow,” she warned.

Negative Trends Across the Board

All told, the joint report points to a total of 20 countries and contexts that are at “further risk of deterioration of acute food insecurity,” with key drivers of hunger including:

  • Expansion and intensification of violence
  • Economic crises exacerbated by COVID-19’s socioeconomic impact
  • Weather extremes
  • Transboundary threats like the Desert Locust
  • A lack of humanitarian access

It notes that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are 22 million people now estimated to be acutely food insecure – the highest number ever registered for a single country. Burkina Faso has registered the biggest increase with the numbers of desperately hungry people almost tripling compared to 2019, driven by increasing conflict, displacement and COVID-related impacts on employment and food access.

The situation is also dire in Yemen, where the existing food insecurity combined with conflict and a deepening economic crisis could lead to a further deterioration of an already critical food security situation.

Catastrophe/famine is the most severe of five phases used by the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system to chart escalating degrees of food insecurity. When this extreme phase is declared, it means that people have already started dying from starvation.

The Hotspots report is saying that, unless urgent action is now taken, the world could experience its first outbreak of famine since it was last declared in 2017 in parts of South Sudan.

This new report was developed under the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an alliance of humanitarian and development actors launched in 2016 by the European Union, FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme to tackle the root causes of food crises through shared analysis and knowledge, strengthened coordination in evidence-based responses, and collective efforts across the humanitarian, development and peace nexus.

Photos available here

Broadcast quality footage available here.

#                           #                          #

The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information, please contact:

  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867, shaza.moghraby@wfp.org
  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993, steve.taravella@wfp.org
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