Story at a glance

  • The report estimates that up to 12,000 people per day could die from hunger due to the pandemic by the end of the year.
  • The report also warns 121 million more people could be pushed to near starvation this year due to social and economic fallout from the pandemic.
  • Oxfam lists 10 of the worlds’ worst hunger hotspots: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Haiti.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate, a worldwide anti-poverty organization is sending a stark warning that more people could die from hunger related to the COVID-19 outbreak than from the actual disease itself. 

Oxfam released new research Thursday projecting that up to 12,000 people per day could die from hunger due to the pandemic by the end of the year. The group notes the global mortality rate for COVID-19 reached its highest point in April, with a little more than 10,000 deaths daily. 

The report titled "The Hunger Virusalso warns 121 million more people could be pushed to near starvation this year due to social and economic fallout from the pandemic, which includes mass unemployment, declining aid and disruption to food production and supplies. 

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“COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers,” Oxfam Interim Executive Director Chema Vera said in a statement

“Meanwhile, those at the top are continuing to make a profit: eight of the biggest food and drink companies paid out over $18 billion to shareholders since January even as the pandemic was spreading across the globe —ten times more than the current UN says is needed to stop people going hungry,” Vera said. 

Oxfam lists 10 of the worlds’ worst hunger hotspots: Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Haiti. The report says at the same time, middle-income countries, such as Brazil, South Africa and India, are reporting rising rates of hunger. 

The organization called on the world’s governments to help contain the spread of the disease, but said it's equally vital they take action to stop people from dying from hunger. 

“Governments can save lives now by fully funding the UN’s COVID-19 appeal, making sure aid gets to those who need it most, and cancelling the debts of developing countries to free up funding for social protection and healthcare,” Vera said.

“To end this hunger crisis, governments must also build fairer, more robust, and more sustainable food systems, that put the interests of food producers and workers before the profits of big food and agribusiness.”

Published on Jul 09, 2020