Haiti among 18 countries named by UN of rising hunger risk
A resident without running water at home fills a container at a water fill station, a day ahead of World Water Day, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (Photo: AP)

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — Haiti is among 18 "hot spot" countries named by two United Nations organisations, where hunger is set to worsen as fighting is putting people at risk of starvation.

In a report published Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said apart from Haiti, the countries of Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Mali have been elevated to the highest alert level, joining Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

The UN agencies said these countries have been elevated to this level because of movement restrictions affecting people and goods.

"All hot spots at the highest level have communities facing or projected to face starvation, or are at risk of sliding towards catastrophic conditions given they have already emergency levels of food insecurity and are facing severe aggravating factors. These hot spots require the most urgent attention," the UN agencies said.

They said additionally, a likely El Niño — a naturally occurring climatic phenomenon that has a warming effect on ocean surface temperatures in the central and east Pacific — is also raising fears of climate extremes in vulnerable nations.

The report called for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods, and to prevent starvation and death.

"Business-as-usual pathways are no longer an option in today's risk landscape if we want to achieve global food security for all, ensuring that no one is left behind," said Dongyu Qu, the FAO director general.

He underlined the need for immediate interventions in the agricultural sector "to pull people from the brink of hunger, help them rebuild their lives, and provide long-term solutions to address the root causes of food insecurity".

According to the report, acute food insecurity is set to potentially increase in 18 hunger "hot spots", comprising a total of 22 countries.

"Not only are more people in more places around the world going hungry, but the severity of the hunger they face is worse than ever," said Cindy McCain, WFP executive director.

The other hot spots are Lebanon, Malawi, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) said in the month of April alone, more than 600 people were killed in violence in the country's capital. This follows the killing of at least 846 people in the first three months of 2023.

BINUH said that overall, the number of victims of killings, injuries and kidnappings increased by 28 per cent in the first quarter of the year, with a total of 1,634 cases reported.

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