Soaring numbers of people in acute food insecurity in 2023: FAO

About 282 million people were facing acute food insecurity last year and over 700,000 were on the brink of famine.

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People wait to receive food relief in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on March 30, 2024. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

The number of people facing acute food insecurity rose to some 282 million in 2023, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday. This is an increase of 24 million since 2022, the FAO stressed in its latest Global Report on Food Crisis.

The number of people on the brink of famine also rose to over 700,000 last year, almost double the number registered in 2022.

The UN agency called for an “urgent response.”

“One of the most important findings (in the report) is that … the percentage of the assessed population in acute food insecurity remained stubbornly high in 2023,” FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience Rein Paulsen warned.

The root causes were wars, extreme climate events, and economic crises combined with “inadequate action.” Especially the Israel-Hamas conflict and the war in Sudan were identified as key factors contributing to the escalating global emergency.

“The Gaza Strip has the highest number of people facing catastrophic hunger ever recorded by the Global Report on Food Crises, even as blocked aid trucks line up at the border,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed in the foreword to the report.

Over 281.6 million people — or 21.5 percent of the population assessed in the report — faced high levels of acute food insecurity last year across 59 countries and territories.

On the other hand, the situation improved in other 17 countries, which resulted in 7.2 million fewer people suffering acute food insecurity in the same period.

Nevertheless, the report warned that the outlook for 2024 is bleak, with no substantial improvement forecast, and with wars, extreme weather, weak purchasing power in low-income countries, and a decrease in humanitarian funding expected to keep affecting populations already experiencing food insecurity.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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