United Nations agencies: Global hunger rises for first time in a decade

FACTBOX-Global hunger rises for first time in a decade - UN agencies

FACTBOX-Global hunger rises for first time in a decade - UN agencies

In 2016, the number of undernourished people increased year on year for the first time since 2003, when a peak of 947 million people (14.9 per cent of the world's population) were undernourished.

The number of hungry in 2016 was 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015.

But proportionally Africa is hardest hit, with 20 percent of people not having enough food - in Asia the ratio is 11.7 percent, according to the reported prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. Still, the United Nations warned the latest figure "is cause for great concern".

The U.N. has said some 20 million people face possible starvation in parts of South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

The prevalence of hunger in conflict zones was 1.4 to 4.4 percentage points higher than in other countries, the report showed.

Almost 52 million were affected by wasting - being underweight for their height.

The report finds that hunger is now increasingly concentrated in fragile and conflict-affected areas.

"The concurrence of conflict and climate-related natural disasters is likely to increase with climate change", the report says, "as climate change not only threatens food insecurity and malnutrition, but can also contribute to further downward deterioration into conflict, protracted crisis and continued fragility".

The report also names the destruction of wheat and barley fields in Iraq, damage to infrastructure in Syria, and the loss of livestock and crops in South Sudan as effects of conflict which are linked to hunger. To meet this, it is important to ensure the world is peaceful and inclusive, they said.

Starvation struck in parts of South Sudan for several months in early 2017, and there is a high risk that it could reoccur there as well as appear in other conflict-affected places, namely northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, they noted.

It added that 11.7 percent of Asia's population (almost 520 million) and 6.6 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean (more than 42 million) did not have access to sufficient food.

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