Food problems in Africa are predicted to worsen at the UN

Some 20 million people in nine countries on the continent are already experiencing severe difficulties, said Elizabeth Beers of the World Food Programme.

The number of people affected by the coronavirus pandemic in East Africa and the Horn of Africa could reach 43 million in the next three months. This forecast was made at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday by the official representative of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Elizabeth Beers.

She explained that in nine countries in that part of Africa – Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda – an estimated 20 million people already faced acute food problems.

“Increasing to 43 million would mean more than doubling that number”, – said Beers. Some 17 million of the poorest citizens and 3.2 million refugees in particular will need help. The UN spokeswoman recalled that “millions of people have already lost their jobs because of the economic turmoil surrounding the Coronavirus.”

“More people are expected to die from the economic impact of COVID-19  than from this virus itself”, –  she said.

WFP needed more than $500 million over the next three to six months to conduct humanitarian operations in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, she said. However, the difficulties, she said, were not only related to food availability but also to restrictions on cross-border transport due to the pandemic. At WFP, it was expected that humanitarian operations “could be granted special status”.


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