Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ending starvation as a weapon of war

Wars dramatically worsen starvation, and about two-thirds of the 815 million chronically hungry people around the world live in conflict areas, according to U.N. food agencies. 

Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, in particular, have erected "systematic obstruction and road blocks" to aid efforts, said Jan Egeland, former U.N. Under Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator and now secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. In Yemen, years of conflict have left roughly a quarter of its 28 million people severely short of food and at risk of starvation. Another 6.5 million people in Syria and 5.3 million in South Sudan, both torn by conflict, also have uncertain access to enough food.

A United Nations vote condemning starvation as a means of warfare is historic but will be useless. The 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday that threatens sanctions on countries that obstruct efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to avert food shortages and potential famine. The resolution will remain a piece of paper. The resolution recognises the impact of conflict on food supplies and the need to protect agricultural livelihoods, said Dominique Burgeon, director of the emergency and rehabilitation division at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Enforcement is critical, said Megan Doherty, senior director at Mercy Corps.

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