“Hunger is actually the worst weapon of mass destruction. It claims millions of victims each year.”-Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
More than 820 million people in the world were still suffering from hunger according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report of 2019. These were the astonishing numbers before the Coronavirus pandemic. As borders are being closed and markets are being shut down the levels of food insecurity are increasing at an alarming rate. As claimed by some of the world’s biggest food companies if food supplies across the world will be massively disrupted by COVID-19, and unless governments act the number of people suffering chronic hunger could double. This problem will hit the developing world the hardest especially those who are currently in the midst of a civil war. People living in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan and South Sudan might have to starve as a huge proportion of them are dependent upon foreign aid and food shipments which have been halted because of the Pandemic.
In Yemen, 15.9 million people woke up hungry every day according to the 2019 WFP report. It is estimated that, in the absence of food assistance, this number would go up to 20 million. The rate of child malnutrition in Yemen is one of the highest in the world and the nutrition situation continues to deteriorate. A survey showed that almost one-third of families in Yemen have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat. Malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with more than a million women and 2 million children requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. The pandemic can easily worsen the already disastrous situation in Yemen. In other parts of the world such as in India, refugees are suffering a lot. India has nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees living in various camps across the country. These camps already suffer from food shortages and according to Al Jazeera, they have been left alone to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Many of them fear that hunger will kill them before Coronavirus. The government is ignoring their basic needs such as food and sanitation. This situation is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The threat also looms all over the world over migrant daily wage workers who have little to zero savings. The migrants from other countries are not receiving the benefits which are being made available to the citizens. Governments all over the world need to show some humanity and must treat migrants as equal to their citizens under international Human Rights norms.
To solve this borders must be kept open for trade under the guidelines of the UN as there are parts of the world that cannot produce their own food. There should be investment in environmentally sustainable food production. There should be proper coordination and data sharing amongst NGOs and the government to locate those who require aid the most. The homeless shelters, refugee camps, orphanages, food banks, etc must be provided regular state-sponsored donations so that they can make food available to those in need. Stockpiling must be kept under check so that there is no shortage of food supply in the markets. The countries which have surplus food stocks must provide them to others in this hour of need. To the financially unstable countries, food must be provided in the form of a loan so that they can pay it back in small monetary installments after the crisis is over.