The Coronavirus pandemic has not only spread death across the globe, but has imperiled food supplies.
“Even before Covid-19 virus turned our world upside down, we were facing a perfect storm already,” says the Executive Director of the World Food Program, former South Carolina Governor David Beasley. “Today we are not only dealing with a global health crisis but a hunger pandemic.”
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The WFP says Covid has pushed nearly 300 million people into a food crisis, and that 135 million people are on the brink of starvation.
The pandemic has prompted the agency to start its largest operation in its history. The duel threats of Covid and climate change have collided to create a food crisis in 23 hot spots. Most of the hardest-hit countries are in Africa, but nations closer to home, such as Haiti and others in Central America have been badly affected also. The war in Afghanistan continues to create an emergency there.
“We protect the most vulnerable with safety nets,” says Beasely. “The support of governments….allows the WFP to save lives and change lives every day.”
The U.S. is by far the agency’s largest sponsor, donating more than $3.5 billion per year. The contributions from American taxpayers far outstrip the mere $11 million in donations from China and $72 million from Russia in 2020.
Other nations are also pitching in.
Qatar recently donated $100 million to help feed people in war-torn Yemen, which the United Nations considers the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“Qatar’s support, part of which will go to WFP, is critical for staving off famine in Yemen and will save millions of lives,” said Beasley.
“I am very encouraged by this latest development in Qatar’s partnership with WFP and my sincere thanks go to the government and people of Qatar for this much-need expression of solidarity.”
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The WFP says it supports nearly 13 million people in Yemen with emergency food assistance and special foods to prevent malnutrition for more than 3 million mothers and children. The agency estimates that about 400,000 children are at risk of dying without the supplies.
The Qatari gift, under the name of Amim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State, was praised by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as U.S. Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Todd Young, R-Ind., the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among others.
“We are pleased that Qatar has stepped up in a big way with a $100 million contribution to the World Food Program. This money will go a long way in helping end the suffering in Yemen, which reinforces efforts for regional peace and security,” the senators said in a joint statement.
The U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, thanked the Amir and noted that “more funding is urgently needed.”
Other nations have also targeted their donations to support the WFP’s programs in Yemen, including Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. More than 35 countries kicked in funds earlier this year during the U.N.’s High Level Pledging Event For the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, totaling $1.67 billion.
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100 million people around the globe are kept alive by the World Food Program deliveries in more than 80 countries. Covid directly plunged 120 million more people into food shortages.
Beasley recently told the G20 that “These are not just numbers, these are not just statistics, these are people with real names, real lives, fragile and literally on the brink of starvation.”
He said, “If we don’t address their needs, over the next six to nine months you could have unprecedented famine of biblical proportions, destabilization of nations and mass migration.”