Pandemic will worsen Middle East food crises: UN

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Before the coronavirus outbreak, nearly 110 million people in the Middle East and North Africa suffered from malnutrition. This is usually because of the lack of food and water available to poorer communities. There are charities that often help provide food to communities, although it’s becoming increasingly difficult with more and more people falling below the poverty line. International Food Insecurity is now a huge concern as many people are not getting the nutrition they need. Quarantine measures and other restrictions on movement exacerbated food crises in the Middle East. Moreover, they can create potentially new crises, a group of UN agencies warned on Wednesday.

A joint statement by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, WHO, UNICEF details the negative effects of coronavirus on household income, food supply chains, and school feeding.

“Quarantine measures create difficulties for many vulnerable families. Current circumstances can exacerbate the already difficult situation with high-quality nutrition, which many families face,” the agencies said.

Nearly 110 million people throughout the region suffer from malnutrition. Particularly difficult is Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The outbreak of coronavirus forced many to make an unpleasant compromise in terms of nutrition quality. The report notes that people who spend most of their time at home eat more pre-packaged, processed foods. More than 17 million students in the region have lost access to food in student canteens. For many of them, this was the only opportunity to eat all day.

In Yemen, nearly 20 million people – two-thirds of the population – suffer from food shortages, including more than 2 million children. The Huti-held World Food Program in Yemen, which halved its supply to the north, notes that it needs $ 870 million to continue delivering food aid.

Food security is growing in Afghanistan too. More than half of the country lives there below the poverty line. When neighboring Pakistan closed its border amid fears of a coronavirus, relief organizations reported delays in deliveries of basic goods, including 577 tons of food, which were due to arrive in April.

The fuel crisis, the economic uncertainty in Lebanon, and the rapid fall of the Syrian pound ended with food prices in the war-torn Syria soaring to the highest level ever recorded. Last year, according to WFP, the cost of basic foodstuffs increased by 107%.

UN agencies have called on international donors to support food supply chains. Now they are violated due to border closures and quarantine measures. And regional governments should give priority to the nutrition of children, infants, and nursing mothers.

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