The number of people facing acute food insecurity could nearly double this year to 265 million due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) said Tuesday.
The impact of lost tourism revenues, falling remittances, and travel and other restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic are expected to leave some 130 million people acutely hungry this year, adding to around 135 million already in that category.
"COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread," said Arif Husain, chief economist and director of research, assessment and monitoring at the WFP.
The Global Report on Food Crises released Tuesday showed that food insecurity was already on the rise last year and the coronavirus crisis is likely to further exacerbate the situation.
The increase by more than 20 million people since last year takes it to a record level in the four years the report has been compiled.
The report is due to be presented later Tuesday to the U.N. Security Council by the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the WFP.
The increase was due to conflicts, economic shocks and weather-related events such as drought. While data collection for the report ended before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the authors of the report warned the pandemic will make the situation worse.
The report is compiled and published annually by a number of groups and aid organizations.