|ROME, Mar. 23, 2018 -- Some 124 million people suffered from acute food insecurity in 2017, up from 108 millions in 2016, the United Nations (UN) said in a report on Thursday.
All of those endangered by acute hunger last year lived across 51 countries, and the worst hunger crises were registered in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and South Sudan, the "Global Report on Food Crises" noted.
Almost 32 million people in the abovementioned countries were food-insecure and "in need of urgent assistance."
The UN estimated a 11 percent increase in the number of food-insecure people last year compared to 2016.
"The number of children and women in need of nutritional support (also) increased between 2016 and 2017, mainly in areas affected by conflict or insecurity, such as Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and northern Nigeria," the report said.
It added that acute outbreaks of cholera also affected some of those countries, worsening acute malnutrition levels.
CONFLICTS, CLIMATE-RELATED SHOCKS
The Global Report on Food Crises was unveiled at a briefing for UN member states here by two agencies of the United Nations -- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) -- and the European Union (EU).
Launched by the EU, FAO and WFP in 2016 to boost coordination amid humanitarian and development agencies, the report annually estimates the state of global hunger. It defines the state of "acute food insecurity" (or acute hunger) as the condition in which an individual's life and livelihood are in immediate danger for lack of nutrition.
The 124 million people at risk in 2017 were especially put in danger by conflicts and climate-related shocks, the UN-led report stressed.
"Conflict and insecurity continued to be primary drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries, where almost 74 million food-insecure people remain in need of urgent assistance," it stated.
Half of these people lived in African countries, while over one-third were in the Middle East. Yemen alone had 17 million people in need of urgent assistance, while Syrian, Iraq and Palestine together accounted for over 10 millions.
Climate-related disasters -- mainly linked to drought -- also triggered food crises in 23 countries in 2017, putting some 39 million people in need of urgent nutritional assistance, the report said.
RISING LEVEL OF FOOD INSECURITY TO CONTINUE
Yet, no region in the world has really been safe from the consequences of conflicts or climate-related shock last year, the UN agencies and the EU warned.
"Throughout Africa, the Middle East and in parts of South Asia, conflict and insecurity have undermined food security," they wrote. "Likewise, persistent drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in Asia, and hurricanes in Latin America and the Caribbean have all contributed to the spread and intensification of hunger."
In Asia, the largest number of people into acute food insecurity was registered in Afghanistan and Myanmar.
The report warned this rise in the level of severe food insecurity would continue throughout 2018, and Yemen would likely remain the country affected by the worst food crisis at global level.
The situation in Yemen -- which has been devastated by a civil war since 2015 -- was expected "to deteriorate, particularly because of restricted access, economic collapse, and outbreaks of disease."
Food security crises would also remain in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, northeast Nigeria and Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria, Libya, and the central Sahel (Mali and Niger).
The consequences of severe dry weather on crops and livestock may also worsen food insecurity in pastoral areas in Somalia, southeast Ethiopia, east Kenya, and in the Sahel in Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.