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The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the global food system. Unsplash

Global conflicts, economic crises, and extreme weather conditions have pushed the number of people who faced acute food insecurity to 155 million in 2020, the highest figure in five years, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other agencies said.

On Wednesday, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu called for “addressing the root causes of acute hunger, and for making agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, sustainable and inclusive”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The situation was described in the “2021 Global Report on Food Crises” issued by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance bringing together the UN’s FAO and World Food Program (WFP), the European Union (EU), governmental agencies and non-profit organizations.

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The most severe conditions were reported in Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and Yemen. Pixabay

Presented at a virtual event, the report highlighted that acute food insecurity, the condition in which the inability to find adequate food puts the life and livelihood of a person in immediate danger, was spread across at least 55 countries and territories in 2020.

Among these, the most severe conditions were reported in Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and Yemen, where at least 133,000 people overall were in need of “urgent action to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihood”.

Since the first such report was issued in 2017, acute food insecurity has been on a constant rise.

Specific key factors were behind the levels seen last year, namely conflicts, economic shocks, and extreme weather conditions, the FAO explained in a joint statement with WFP and EU.

Wars represented the “main driver pushing almost 100 million people in acute food insecurity in 2020”, up from 77 million in the previous year.

Long-term food scarcity demonstrated how environmental, social, and economic patterns intersected with conflict and insecurity. IANS

In the second place came economic crises, which were “due to Covid-19” last year and replaced weather hazards as the second pulling factor, with more than 40 million people affected against 24 million in 2019.

The adverse weather events ranked third, which last year threatened over 15 million people, down from 34 million in 2019.

Overall, the context in which all these three factors had their effects was worsened by the pandemic, the global network’s founding members said in their joint statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the global food system, and the need for more equitable, sustainable, and resilient systems to nutritiously and consistently feed 8.5 billion people by 2030,” the agencies said.

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They also noted that prolonged food crises were proving how environmental, social, and economic trends combined with conflicts and insecurity “are eroding the resilience of agri-food systems”.

“If current trends are not reversed, food crises will increase in frequency and severity,” they said.

In the foreword of this year’s report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for “addressing hunger and conflict together” because these two conditions were mutually reinforcing.

“Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace,” Guterres said. (IANS/KB)



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Pakistan has failed miserably to protect Hindus, their interests.

A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.

According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.

Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.

Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.

The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".

But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.

A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.

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