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LONDON (Reuters) – The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) will need to raise $6.8 billion over the next six months to avert famine amid the COVID-19 crisis, the agency said on Tuesday.
The WFP, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week for its efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, said it had so far raised $1.6 billion.
“We’ve got a lot more money to raise to make certain we avert famine,” David Beasley, executive director of the WFP, said at a conference organized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Mr. Beasley noted that 7 million people had died from hunger this year as the COVID-19 pandemic, which could double hunger worldwide, claimed a further 1 million lives.
“If we don’t sort out COVID, [the] hunger death rate could be 3, 4, 5 times that,” said Mr. Beasley.
The Rome-based WFP says it helps some 97 million people in about 88 countries each year, and that one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.
After declining for several decades, world hunger has been on the rise again since 2016, driven by conflict and natural disasters.
“If you think about the wealth on Earth today we shouldn’t see one single child [go] hungry or die from starvation,” said Mr. Beasley.