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Hunger pandemic threatens 270 million people this Christmas

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Over 270 million people around the world are facing into a Christmas of hunger due to the joint effects of drought and Covid-19 restrictions, Trócaire has warned.

Over 270 million people around the world are facing into a Christmas of hunger due to the joint effects of drought and Covid-19 restrictions, Trócaire has warned.

The charity today launched its Christmas Appeal to support people facing hunger over the coming months. The charity warned of a 'hunger pandemic' facing the world over the coming months.

Among the shocking statistics Trócaire is highlighting this Christmas are:

  • Five regions of South Sudan are at risk of falling into famine early in 2021.
  • One in every three people in Zimbabwe is facing a food crisis.
  • Over 2 million people in Somalia need urgent food aid.
  • After 10 years of war, a record 9.3 million Syrians require food support.

The Covid-19 crisis has doubled the number of people around the world who are facing crisis levels of hunger. Lockdowns and restrictions introduced to curb the spread of the virus have contributed to an explosion in the hunger crisis:

  • People have had no way to earn an income and do not have access to any social welfare safety net.
  • There has been a huge drop in remittances (money sent to family members from overseas).
  • Local markets were closed for a prolonged period meaning farmers could not sell their goods.
  • Border closures have led to a shortage of key materials including seeds. The price of these materials has increased as a result.
  • School closures have meant that millions of children have not been able to access school feeding programmes they rely on.

Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra said:

“This year has seen a perfect storm that has left 270 million people facing crisis levels of food shortages. That is double the number of people needing immediate assistance this time last year.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for the world’s poorest people. People haven’t been able to plant crops, sell goods at local markets or access school feeding programmes. Millions of people who may have been earning less than $1 a day before the pandemic are now earning nothing at all.

“People are incredibly resilient. In countries like Somalia, people have overcome decades of conflict and worsening drought. They are experts at surviving crises not of their making, but with the next harvest not due until April at the earliest, people need urgent support. The next five months are going to be like nothing we have seen before.

“Hunger is the next pandemic the world is facing, only this time we know what the vaccine is. Support for Trócaire’s Christmas Appeal will provide a lifeline to families this Christmas.”

In Zimbabwe, 56 of the country’s 60 districts are facing crisis levels of hunger. Bekezela Mapanda, Trócaire’s Programme Manager in Zimbabwe, said:

“Zimbabwe is experiencing a drought, an economic crisis and now Covid-19 too. The combined impact of this is devastating. One-in-three people in Zimbabwe – around 5 million people – are experiencing food shortages.

“The Covid lockdown meant people could not access markets or trade across borders. There is no social security net in Zimbabwe, so there are no payments for people who have lost their jobs or are struggling to grow crops.

“People here are amazingly strong and resilient but the impact of Covid, on top of the drought and economic crisis, has really pushed people to the edge.”