Some 124 million people in 51 countries needed urgent humanitarian aid in 2017 due to severe food crises, which continue to intensify mainly due to conflicts, the UN warned.
The global report on food crises, prepared by various United Nations agencies and other partners, highlights that people with acute hunger in the world has increased by 11 million (11% annually) if compared among the 45 countries analyzed in the edition and in the previous year.
In 2016, 108 million people were suffering from severe food insecurity in 48 countries, compared to 80 million in 2015.
The general director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, explained in a conference that "two out of every three people with hunger come from countries that live prolonged crises".
The worst food crises of 2017 were located in the northeast of Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan, where there were 32 million people in need of urgent assistance, 16% more than a year before.
The famine declared in February of that year in South Sudan could be contained with emergency aid, although the four countries remain in a very delicate situation.
Da Silva said that with the information available it is possible to avoid such tragedies and urged to maintain the livelihoods in those countries so that the aid is "more efficient and less expensive".
According to the report, conflicts were the main cause of food insecurity in 18 countries, 15 of them in Africa and the Middle East, which affected 74 million people, 60% of the total acute cases of hunger.
Insecurity has intensified in countries such as Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, and Burma.
Natural disasters, especially drought, caused serious food problems for 39 million people in 23 countries, including Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh as the most affected.
Around the world, it is estimated that in 2016 there were 815 million people who went hungry, although the study presented today focuses only on those more severe cases of crisis using a scale of five levels.
By 2018, conflicts are expected to continue to influence the food crises in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Nigeria, Lake Chad, South Sudan, Syria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Yemen. the latter with some 17 million people in a situation of hunger.
The Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, insisted that hunger could not be eradicated if wars and violence, in general, are not over.
He asked the donors to increase the funds and give them flexibility in the design of the programs for each situation.
"If families have food for their children, they will not be exposed to recruitment (of extremist groups) and we will see food as a weapon of peace and reconciliation," he said.
The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Neven Mimica, agreed that "different contexts need different responses" and encouraged the private sector to cover the lack of funding for aid, which should also promote resilience and tackle problems at the root.
In the four most affected countries, 29% of the required funds remain unfinanced, which in 2017 amounted to over 6,500 million dollars, more than double the 2,900 million in 2013.