Around 56 million people are in need of urgent food and livelihood assistance in eight conflict zones around the world where starvation is mainly used as a tool of war, a U.N. report said Monday.
In a joint U.N. report, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) for the U.N. Security Council, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic are the five zones that experienced conflict-driven food insecurity the most in the latter part of 2018.
"The link between conflict and hunger remains all too persistent," the report asserted.
The other three conflict zones, Somalia, Syria and Lake Chad Basin, have seen improvements in food security in line with improvements in security. The report, however, said a "major deterioration" is projected during the 2019 lean season across the Lake Chad Basin.
"The millions of men, women and children going hungry as a result of armed conflict will not be reduced unless and until these fundamental principles are followed," states the U.N. report.
Based on the U.N. Security Council's Resolution 2417 that condemns unequivocally starvation used as a tool of war, the report also called on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law to minimize the impact of military actions on civilians, including on food security in conflict zones, and to allow humanitarian access in a safe and timely manner to civilians needing lifesaving food, nutritional and medical assistance.
In Yemen, for more than one year after a Saudi coalition imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports temporarily halting life-saving supplies, Yemenis have struggled to live under a blockade, while being left low on fuel and food. "More than 20 million Yemenis, nearly 70 percent of the entire population, are hungry," said the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande.
"This report clearly demonstrates the impact of armed violence on the lives and livelihoods of millions of men, women, boys and girls caught up in conflict," wrote FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva states in the report's foreword.
"I would strongly encourage you to keep in mind that behind these seemingly dry statistics are real people experiencing rates of hunger that are simply unacceptable in the 21st century," he continued.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley urged "better and quicker access in all conflict zones" in order to reach more people in need.
"But what the world needs most of all is an end to the wars," said Beasley.
The report also said that violence against humanitarian workers is on the rise, which has forced aid organizations to suspend their operations and deprive vulnerable populations of humanitarian assistance.