AMMAN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that 21,000 Syrian refugees will no longer receive their monthly food assistance as of July following a prioritization exercise driven by a shortage of funds.

Recent contributions from donors have averted wide-scale cuts that would have affected a larger number of people, but resources still fall well short of meeting the needs of all vulnerable refugees in Jordan. The U.N. World Food Programme urgently needs $58 million to continue food assistance until the end of the year for the half million refugees it supports.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. We have to make some difficult choices to stretch the limited resources we have and ensure that we meet the needs of the most vulnerable refugees. These are families who cannot put food on the table without U.N. World Food Programme assistance,” said Alberto Correia Mendes, the U.N. World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Jordan. “These are painful choices. What’s more, if we do not receive further contributions. We may find ourselves having to cut food assistance for another quarter of a million refugees living outside the camps by September.”

The cuts are coming at the worst time for families, when many are struggling to earn money or have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent U.N. World Food Programme survey revealed that 68 percent of the refugees have seen their income drop since the beginning of the pandemic.

Food insecurity among refugees in Jordan has doubled in the last year to reach 25 percent. Two in three refugees – 64 percent – are on the edge of food insecurity.

Refugee families consider the U.N. World Food Programme’s assistance a lifeline. Refugees living in Zaatari and Azraq camps and extremely vulnerable families living in local communities receive $32 (JOD 23) per person each month, while refugees living outside camps who are classified as vulnerable receive monthly assistance of $21 (JOD 15) per person.

The U.N. World Food Programme urgently requires funding to continue assistance to vulnerable refugees, to stop families falling into further food insecurity and deeper poverty. The U.N. World Food Programme is working closely with partners including the Jordanian Government, donors, UN agencies and NGOs to raise the required funds.

“We are grateful to our donors for their long-standing support to Syrian refugees in Jordan over the last decade. Many of these refugees are now more vulnerable than ever, reeling from the economic impact of Covid-19, which has pushed hundreds of thousands into an ever more desperate situation and increased their humanitarian needs,” said Mendes. “We count on our donor support more than ever.”

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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 and @wfp_mena

SANA’A – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is increasing the level of food assistance in Yemen’s worst hunger hotspots in an effort to prevent a devastating famine. But the agency’s ability to sustain the response to the end of the year remains uncertain.

“The continued fragility in Yemen, compounded by the persistent driving factors of food insecurity has left Yemen acutely vulnerable to worsening levels of hunger – and famine conditions,” said Laurent Bukera, U.N. World Food Programme Country Director for Yemen. “Escalating conflict, economic decline, rising global commodity prices and COVID-19 have all contributed to an alarming increase in acute hunger over the last year.”

Nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are already living in famine-like conditions and 5 million people are in immediate danger. A child dies every 10 minutes of preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.

Responding to these acute needs, the U.N. World Food Programme resumed monthly distributions to 350,000 people in 11 districts facing famine-like conditions (IPC5) in February.

In April and May this year, after new funds were confirmed, the U.N. World Food Programme began increasing assistance to nearly 6 million people in the nine governorates with the highest rates of ‘emergency’ food insecurity (IPC4): Hajjah, Al Jawf, Amran, Al Hodeidah, Raymah, Al Mahwit, Sa’ada, Dhamar and Taiz. From June, these people will again receive the full ration every month.

The U.N. World Food Programme supports a total of 12.9 million people with food assistance in Yemen, prioritizing areas with the highest rates of food insecurity and providing rapid support to families displaced by conflict, such as in the Marib governorate. But in April 2020, in a challenging operating environment and facing reduced funding, the U.N. World Food Programme was forced to stop providing assistance every month, and instead provide it every two months, in the northern areas of Yemen.

This year, donors have so far stepped up with nearly $947 million for the U.N. World Food Programme’s famine prevention effort in Yemen, including large-scale support from the US, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and European Union. The U.N. World Food Programme’s food security monitoring, which tracks food consumption, dietary diversity and food-related coping strategies, will soon show the impact of the gradual scale up of assistance, as seen following the significant increase of assistance in 2019 when famine last threatened.

“We will start seeing the impact in the coming months, but initial gains will be fragile,” warned Bukera. “The U.N. World Food Programme’s ability to maintain this level of response until the end of the year hangs in the balance. Sustained, predictable and flexible funding is required immediately, otherwise we will see any progress undone and needs rapidly rise in what is an unpredictable and challenging operational environment.”

Hunger has increased in Yemen as the conflict has escalated, displacing families for the third or even fourth time as the war grinds into its seventh year. Rising food prices – up to 200 percent above pre-war levels – have made food unaffordable for millions. On top of this, a deadly second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping across Yemen and the healthcare system is unable to cope.

As the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2417 – passed three years ago this month – makes clear, the corrosive cycle of hunger and conflict means that peace will be the only lasting solution to Yemen’s hunger crisis. Until that day, humanitarian assistance is vital and the consequences of another funding shortfall would be devastating for Yemenis.

Note to editors:

  • 50,000 people in Yemen are facing famine-like conditions (IPC 5) with 5 million a step away from famine (IPC 4) – and will fall into famine if conditions worsen. A further 11 million people are facing crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC 3).
  • Around half of all children under five in Yemen – 2.3 million children – are projected to face acute malnutrition in 2021. Nearly 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme supports nearly 13 million people with emergency food assistance, providing rations of flour, lentils, vegetable oil, sugar and salt, or vouchers or cash to purchase the same quantity of food.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme supports 3.3 million children and mothers with nutrition supplements to treat and prevent malnutrition. 1.55 million school children also get daily nutritious snacks in school.
  • To prevent famine in Yemen, the U.N. World Food Programme needs at least $1.9 billion in 2021.

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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 @WFPYemen

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has signed a Strategic Partnership with global conflict resolution organization the International Crisis Group, in order to boost its conflict sensitivity and prevention capacity as it continues to deliver life-saving food to the world’s most vulnerable people.

The partnership comes after a year marked by increased conflict, the impact of the pandemic, spiralling food prices and a downturn in donor support. Hunger and famine-like conditions are spiking in countries like Yemen, South Sudan and Afghanistan, which continue to be shaken by conflict, with conditions set to worsen through 2021.

“Since the U.N. World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, a global spotlight has illuminated how hunger is so often used to fuel conflict and destroy stability and peace,” said David Beasley, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Executive Director. “UN Security Council Resolution 2417 was a historic step toward ending starvation as a weapon of war. But, three years later, with violence surging and famine looming around the world, the international community needs to live up to the values it enshrines. Here at the U.N. World Food Programme, wherever we provide life-saving food we also work tirelessly to seed the ground for peace.”

The UN Security Council’s Resolution 2417 – passed three years ago this week – makes clear the link between hunger and conflict. It condemns starvation as a tool of war and calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to minimize the impact of military actions on civilians, including on food production and distribution, and to allow humanitarian access in a safe and timely manner to civilians needing lifesaving food, nutritional and medical assistance.

The new partnership will cover a number of crises across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and aims to identify and reduce the risks involved in delivering food assistance in conflict contexts. This includes, for instance, efforts to ensure food assistance does not accidentally fuel grievances; deliberate measures to ensure assistance does not exacerbate tensions by inadvertently entrenching unfair control of, or access to, natural resources; and suggesting action to prevent the reinforcement of harmful existing inequalities.

“We are delighted to be formalizing our partnership with the U.N. World Food Programme and recognize that their largest operations are in countries where conflict continues to destroy lives and livelihoods,” said Richard Atwood, Crisis Group’s Interim President. “We look forward to strengthening our understanding of the role of food insecurity in conflict, and to helping the U.N. World Food Programme and its partner organizations identify and minimize conflict risks.”

The U.N. World Food Programme is 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. Its 2020 Nobel Prize citation praised the organisation “for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

The International Crisis Group is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading, and independent, source of analysis and advice to governments and intergovernmental bodies on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Crisis Group operates across the globe and uses expert field research, analysis of crises from the standpoints of all parties and engagement with policymakers in order to avert conflict and save lives.

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Pressing need to upscale both food aid and agricultural livelihoods assistance to head off a worst-case scenario

ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR: With each day that passes, more lives are at stake as hunger tightens its grip in southern Madagascar. This is the stark warning from two United Nations agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), as they seek to draw international attention to a humanitarian crisis that risks being invisible.

Around 1.14 million people in the south of Madagascar are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, of which nearly 14,000 people are in ‘Catastrophe’ (Phase 5 – the highest in the five-step scale of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

This is the first time that people have been recorded in Phase 5 in Madagascar since the IPC methodology was introduced in 2016. Unless urgent action is taken now, the number of people in the ‘Catastrophe’ category is expected to double over the next lean season starting in October 2021.

Drought, sandstorms, plant and animal pests and diseases, and the impact of COVID-19 have caused up to three-quarters of the population in the worst affected Amboasary Atsimo district to face dire consequences, and global acute malnutrition rates have crossed an alarming 27 percent causing irreversible damage to children.

“The issue is no longer about how bad it is – it is extremely bad. Children are starving, children are dying. I met a mother with an 8-month-old child who looked like he was only 2 months old. She had already lost her older child,” said U.N. World Food Programme Senior Director of Operations Amer Daoudi who recently visited one of the worst-affected areas, Sihanamaro. “We are already witnessing whole villages shutting down and moving to urban centres. This puts additional pressure on an already fragile situation.”

The worst drought in four decades, which has been building over three consecutive years, has wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food. This comes on top of years of deforestation and resulting erosion — now compounded by climate change — which have devastated the environment and unprecedented sandstorms have transformed large swathes of arable land into wasteland.

The 2019/20 agricultural season saw a dramatic decrease in food production. This was then aggravated by another year of poor rainfall in 2020/2021 which was the fifth year of below average rains in the island’s semi-arid South.

The 2021 harvest of crops like rice, maize, cassava and grains is expected to be less than half the five-year average, laying the ground for a prolonged and severe lean season, starting in October 2021.

“A counter-intuitive fact is that 95 percent of people facing acute food insecurity in southern Madagascar live on agriculture, livestock and fishing. Years of poor harvests driven by drought upon drought, and weather-related damages to fishing, have pushed people to the brink. We must take urgent action to keep livestock alive and provide seeds, irrigation, tools and fishing gear to rapidly boost local food production and availability — but cannot neglect the need to build more climate-resilient agricultural livelihoods for the longer term,” said FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Dominique Burgeon.

Given the significant loss of livelihoods and reduced access to food for vulnerable households, providing farming communities with seeds, tools and other essential inputs is vital to kickstart local food production, generate income and build resilience. This support to farming and rural livelihoods complements emergency food and prevents families from selling their productive assets such as farming equipment and even cooking utensils just to survive.

Resources urgently needed to save lives

Humanitarian food stocks in Madagascar are running low. The U.N. World Food Programme is bringing supplies in but access to the worst affected areas is being hampered by poor infrastructure and weak road networks. COVID-19 restrictions have halted all flights into the island nation meaning critical humanitarian cargo is limited to access by boat and lead times for turning donations into humanitarian aid has increased sharply.

Since October 2020, the Government and the U.N. World Food Programme have been progressively assisting around 750,000 people through general food distributions combined with distribution of supplementary food for the prevention of moderate acute malnutrition in children under five as well as pregnant and nursing women. But the food insecurity crisis has been growing fast and this current support is not enough to offset the impact and the risk of famine. The U.N. World Food Programme urgently needs $74 million over the next six months to avert disaster in southern Madagascar.

The Government and FAO have meanwhile supported the livelihoods of around 20,000 farming families (around 160,000 people) with fast-growing vegetable seed packs as well as training in drought-resilient farming strategies and post-harvest loss reduction. At the same time, FAO has distributed feed and health kits to keep poultry, goats and sheep alive. Even a small increase in household food production can make a major difference for at-risk families, and such support must be significantly scaled up.

FAO urgently needs $40 million to reach an additional 225,000 farming households with life-saving support through the coming lean season until the end of the year.

The FAO-U.N. World Food Programme warning issued today comes amid rising international concern over surging levels of acute food insecurity, with the recent Global Report on Food Crises adding to the sense of urgency. Responding to UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for international solidarity to #FightFamine this year, FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme have called for $ 5.5 billion in urgent funding for humanitarian food aid and livelihoods support.


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ROME – The number of people facing acute food insecurity and needing urgent life and livelihood-saving assistance has hit a five-year high in 2020 in countries beset by food crises, an annual report launched today by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an international alliance of the UN, the EU, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises together – has found. Conflict, economic shocks – including due to COVID-19, extreme weather – pushed at least 155 million people into acute food insecurity in 2020.

The stark warning from the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises reveals that conflict, or economic shocks that are often related to COVID-19 along with extreme weather, are continuing to push millions of people into acute food insecurity.

Report’s key findings:

The report reveals that at least 155 million people experienced acute food insecurity at Crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3 or worse) – or equivalent – across 55 countries/territories in 2020 – an increase of around 20 million people from the previous year, and raises a stark warning about a worrisome trend: acute food insecurity has kept up its relentless rise since 2017 – the first edition of the report.

Of these, around 133,000 people were in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity in 2020 – Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) – in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen where urgent action was needed to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihoods.

At least another 28 million people faced Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) level of acute food insecurity in 2020 – meaning they were one step away from starvation – across 38 countries/territories where urgent action saved lives and livelihoods, and prevented famine spreading.

39 countries/territories have experienced food crises during the five years that the GNAFC has been publishing its annual report; in these countries/territories, the population affected by high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or worse) increased from 94 to 147 million people between 2016 and 2020.

Additionally, in the 55 food-crisis countries/territories covered by the report, over 75 million children under five were stunted (too short) and over 15 million wasted (too thin) in 2020.

Countries in Africa remained disproportionally affected by acute food insecurity. Close to 98 million people facing acute food insecurity in 2020 – or two out of three – were on the African continent. But other parts of the world have also not been spared, with countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Haiti among the ten worst food crises last year.

The key drivers behind rising acute food insecurity in 2020 were:

  • conflict (main driver pushing almost 100 million people into acute food insecurity in 20 countries/territories, up from 77 million in 2019);
  • economic shocks – often due to COVID-19 – replaced weather events as the second driver of acute food insecurity both in terms of numbers of people and countries affected (over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories, up from 24 million and 8 countries in 2019); and,
  • weather extremes (around 16 million people in 15 countries/territories, down from 34 million in 25 countries/territories).

While conflict will remain the major driver of food crises in 2021, COVID-19 and related containment measures and weather extremes will continue to exacerbate acute food insecurity in fragile economies.

Statement from the Global Network Against Food Crises:

“One year after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook for 2021 and beyond is grim. Conflict, pandemic-related restrictions fuelling economic hardship and the persistent threat of adverse weather conditions will likely continue driving food crises,” said the European Union (EU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – founding members of the Global Network – together with USAID in a joint statement released with the report.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the global food system and the need for more equitable, sustainable and resilient systems to nutritiously and consistently feed 8.5 billion people by 2030. A radical transformation of our agri-food systems is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“The protracted nature of most food crises shows that long-term environmental, social and economic trends compounded by increasing conflict and insecurity are eroding the resilience of agri-food systems. If current trends are not reversed, food crises will increase in frequency and severity.”

To address these challenges the Global Network will step up efforts to promote resilient agri-food systems that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, and will support major events this year such as the UN Food Systems Summit, the Convention on Biodiversity, the G20 Summit, the Climate Change Conference and the Nutrition for Growth Summit. It will also cooperate with the G7 initiative to avert famine.

The Global Network emphasizes the need to act urgently and decisively, and calls for the international community to mobilize against hunger.

Message from the UN Secretary-General:

“Conflict and hunger are mutually reinforcing. We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either…We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the foreword of the report.

The stark warning from the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises reveals that conflict, or economic shocks that are often related to COVID-19 along with extreme weather, are continuing to push millions of people into acute food insecurity.

In March 2021, Guterres established a High-Level Task Force on Preventing Famine, led by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, along with FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme and with the support of OCHA and other UN agencies as well as NGO partners. The Task Force aims to bring coordinated, high-level attention to famine prevention and mobilise support to the most affected countries.

Read the full report here and the Global Network’s statement.

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Note to editors

Acute food insecurity is when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger. It draws on internationally-accepted measures of extreme hunger, such as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)  and the Cadre Harmonisé. It is not the same as chronic hunger, as reported on each year by the UN’s annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. Chronic hunger is when a person is unable to consume enough food over an extended period to maintain a normal, active lifestyle.

About the Global Network and the Global Report:

Founded by the EU, FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme in 2016, the Global Network Against Food Crises is an alliance of humanitarian and development actors working together to prevent, prepare for, and respond to food crises and support the Sustainable Development Goal to End Hunger (SDG 2).

The Global Report on Food Crises is the flagship publication of the Global Network and is facilitated by the FoodSecurity Information Network (FSIN). The Report is the result of a consensus-based and multi-partner analytical process involving 16 international humanitarian and development partners (full list here).

High-level launch event

A high-level launch event will bring together leading humanitarian and development actors to discuss the findings of the Global Report and chart a collective response to the acute hunger situation the world today confronts. The virtual event will start at 14.30 hours Rome time (2:30 PM EST) on May 5 and can be followed via live webcast 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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

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