The International Catholic Migration Commission has joined a call for $5.5 billion in additional funding and a global ceasefire to prevent famine and further loss of life across the world.
In 2021, approximately 270 million people in 79 countries lack access to adequate food. Of these, 34 million face emergency levels of acute food insecurity and are at high risk of famine. These figures have risen dramatically since 2019, driven by a combination of armed conflict, climate change and poverty.
The effects of such a complex situation have been compounded by the impact of the global COVID-19 crisis, which highlights how inequality and poverty affect access to food for large parts of the world’s population. COVID-19 has also made many countries vulnerable to economic shocks affecting food security.
In view of this situation, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) has joined more than 260 civil society organizations that are calling on States to take immediate action.
“Already, 155,000 people are living in famine or famine-like conditions in Yemen, South Sudan and Burkina Faso,” says the open letter authored by the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) of which ICMC is a member. “A further 34 million are teetering on the brink of famine and the slightest shock could push them over the edge.”
“It is human actions that are driving famine and hunger and it is our actions that can stop the worst impacts,” the ICVA letter states. “We all have a part to play. But you, as Leaders, States and main duty-bearers, have a unique responsibility. We call on [States and their leaders] to take action now.”
Last February, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program estimated that the humanitarian sector requires at least $5.5 billion to provide famine relief and avert imminent famines and called on States to provide these additional funds for urgent food assistance.
“This assistance must begin immediately and reach as directly as possible the people most in need, now,” declared the signatories of the ICVA open letter.
Humanitarian Assistance Requires a Global Ceasefire
In March 2020, the World Food Program estimated that armed conflict or other violence leading to acute food shortages is likely to increase in nine countries around the world and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global ceasefire “in support of the battle against COVID-19.” This call led to a UN Security Council resolution in support of a global “durable humanitarian phase” to fight the pandemic.
The Security Council resolution has received support from civil society organizations and world leaders, including Pope Francis. “The call for a global and immediate ceasefire, which would allow the peace and security essential for providing the humanitarian assistance so urgently needed, is commendable,” said the Holy Father. “I hope it will be implemented effectively and promptly for the sake of the many people who are suffering and become a courageous first step towards a peaceful future.”
The ICVA open letter calls on States to “work with all parties to end conflict and violence in all its forms.” It also stresses the need to prevent future conflict and displacement by “investing in alleviating poverty and hunger and in giving people the tools they need to build more resilient futures for themselves, sustainably adapt to climate change and guard against the shocks of COVID-19.”
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.