February 26, 2024

After a fire in a refugee camp in Ukhia in the southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar on March 24, 2021, children are seen eating 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 remember that these numbers are individual people who are exposed to unimaginable suffering. One person is too much too.

Abby Maxman

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 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic 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 mind-boggling, but we must remember 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 steal food and water from civilians 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 has dubbed “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.

Hurt 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.

Abby Maxman

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 net worth over the past year – 11 times the estimated cost of the United Nations for 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 a leadership role 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 achieve a safe one Building the future. “