In a letter to members of the Security Council, Mr. Mark Lowcock warned that the "First Famines of Coronavirus Era Are at World’s Doorstep"

Published Date

 

The NewYork Times

By Rick Gladstone 

Sept. 5, 2020

The first famines of the coronavirus era could soon hit four chronically food-deprived conflict areas — Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo — the top humanitarian official of the United Nations has warned.

In a letter to members of the Security Council, the official, Mark Lowcock, said the risk of famines in these areas had been intensified by “natural disasters, economic shocks and public-health crises, all compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Together, he said, “these factors are endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.”

The letter, which has not been made public, was conveyed by Mr. Lowcock’s office to the Security Council on Friday under its 2018 resolution requiring updates when “the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity” occurs. A copy of the letter was seen by The New York Times.

United Nations officials have said before that all four areas are vulnerable to acute food deprivation because of chronic armed conflicts and the inability of humanitarian relief providers to freely distribute aid.

In April, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger arm of the United Nations, warned the Security Council that while the world was contending with the coronavirus pandemic, “we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic.”