Around 280 million people are on the brink of starvation in the world due to a number of reasons, the head of World Food Program (WFP) said on Tuesday.
The number had first spiked to 135 million during the COVID-19 crisis from 80 million five years ago, David Beasley told in a virtual press conference.
Beasley listed the factors, for which he called "a perfect storm," as Russia's war on Ukraine, coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and the spike in commodity prices, especially in food, fuel and fertilizers.
"We have to be thinking out of the box. This is a problem for the entire world. The next six to nine months is crucial. This is a multi-year problem," he explained.
Beasley noted that the WFP has a shortfall of $8-9 billion facing the global food crisis.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said food production, trade and solidarity between countries are crucial to overcome the global food crisis.
"It is crucial to act now. This mobilization mechanism will prevent an international crisis that would be devastating for the whole world," he said.
The WFP said in a statement that the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war is adding increased pressure on import-dependent countries, which now have to pay more for basic food commodities.
"Even prior to invasion of Ukraine, rising prices were putting basic food items beyond the reach of many vulnerable families. Food prices are at an all-time high, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index," it said.
"We have a common goal, to prevent a major food crisis," said French Agriculture and Food Minister Julien Denormandie.
EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic called Russia's war on Ukraine the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
The officials met earlier in Rome to discuss plans to prevent a deterioration in food security around the world as a result of the war in Ukraine, especially for the world's developing and vulnerable countries.
WFP said $570 million are urgently needed to help people on the brink of starvation, according to its website./aa