UN Says Hunger in Arab Region Continues To Worsen

The United Nation said that a third of people in the 420-million-strong Arab world does not have enough to eat, highlighting that 69 million people suffered from malnutrition in 2021.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its latest report said that between 2019 and 2020, the number of malnourished in the Arab world rose by 4.8 million people to 69 million, nearly 16 percent of the population.

Protracted crises, social unrest, and exposure to stresses such as conflicts, poverty, inequality, climate change, scarce natural resources and the economic repercussions associated with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, are the main drivers of the Arab world toward famine.

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa said that conflicts continue to be one of the leading causes of hunger in the region, with approximately 53.4 million people facing hunger in countries and areas affected by conflict, which is more than six times higher than in non-conflict countries.

“There may be no visible improvement in the situation this year since hunger’s primary drivers will continue to drag the situation further down the road,” Elwaer added.

The UN also warned that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arab region was not on track to meet its goals for hunger and nutrition-related SDG targets.

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t yet been fully reflected on nutrition indicators, but the worsening food security situation suggests that more people are having trouble getting a healthy diet, which will influence their nutrition status adversely, it added.

The report says that in 2020, 20.5 percent of children under the age of five are stunted and 7.8 percent are wasted in 2020.

“Although there has been some progress in reducing child undernutrition in the past two decades it still remains a source of concern for policymakers in the region, particularly in low-income countries” Elwaer highlighted.

“Childhood overweight remains a high public health problem in the region, exceeding the global average of 5.7 percent and reaching 10.7 in our region,” he added. 

The UN said the data and analyses presented in the report refer to the Arab States: Algeria; Bahrein; the Comoros; Djibouti; Egypt; Iraq; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Mauritania; Morocco; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; the Sudan; the Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; the United Arab Emirates; Yemen, as well as Palestine.

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