Migrants Suffer Less Hunger than Those Who Stay
Despite progress in reducing hunger worldwide, hunger levels in 52 of 117 countries in the 2015 Global Hunger Index remain “serious” (44 countries) or “alarming” (8 countries). The Central African Republic, Chad and Zambia had the highest hunger levels in the report, which was released on Monday by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide.
When famine occurs today, it is usually the result of armed conflict. An average of 42,500 people per day fled their homes last year. Approximately 59.5 million people are displaced by conflict worldwide, more than ever before.
Although refugees are more visible, 87 percent of those affected by conflict do not flee their homes and tend to fare worse than those displaced.
“War and conquest have long been the drivers of mass starvation. Although humanitarian responses are far faster and more proficient than in the past, we still need to attend to the perils of armed conflict and inhumane policies generating severe hunger,” said Alex de Waal, author of the report’s essay and executive director of the World Peace Foundation and research professor at Tufts University. “The world has enough food, enough logistics, enough knowledge, to end severe hunger: achieving that is a matter of political will only.”
“More than 80 percent of those affected by armed conflict stay within their countries. They are the ones who suffer most from severe food insecurity,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “We need to do more to support these people and to help restore their livelihoods. However, unless we address the root causes of armed conflict, the progress made in reducing hunger will not last.”
The eight countries described as “alarming” include many of the sources of migrants rescued at sea:
Central African Republic
Some of the world’s poorest countries could not be included in the report due to unavailable data. As a result, the picture of global hunger is probably worse than reported. Eritreans and Syrians made up half of the migrant traffic to Europe last year, and a 2015 score could not be calculated for Syria, Eritrea or Somalia for example, because data for all underlying indicators were not available.
SOME BRIGHT SPOTS
The report outlined some bright spots in the fight to end world hunger. The level of hunger in developing countries has fallen by 27 percent since 2000, and 17 countries reduced their hunger scores by at least half since 2000. Among those countries are Azerbaijan, Brazil, Croatia, Mongolia, Peru and Venezuela.
Global hunger is a continuing challenge with one in nine people worldwide chronically undernourished and more than one quarter of children too short for their age due to nutritional deficiencies. Nearly half of all child deaths under age five are due to malnutrition, which claims the lives of about 3.1 million children per year.
Between 1870 and 2014, 106 instances of famine and mass starvation each killed 100,000 people or more. Despite a decrease in wars over recent decades, the number of violent conflicts and conflict-related deaths has recently increased from an all-time low in 2006.
“Conflict is development in reverse. Without peace, ending poverty and hunger by 2030 will never be achieved. The time has come for the international community to make conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution a far higher political priority,” said Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley. “Diplomatic muscle and political will is urgently needed in equal measure to prevent the appalling levels of poverty, suffering and horrific brutality that seem commonplace in too many of today’s conflicts.”
The full report is available here.
An interactive map is available here.