Around 52 million people across the Near East and North Africa are suffering from chronic undernourishment, fanned by conflicts and protracted crises, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday.
“Conflicts and civil instability have long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security of both affected and surrounding countries in the regions”, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and NENA Representative of the (FAO) said, noting that more than two-thirds of hungry people there live in conflict-affected countries, threatening efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the key goal of Zero Hunger.
Ahmed said the conflicts had disrupted food and livestock production in countries in the region, consequently affecting availability of food.
The UN agency also noted that the conflicts were also undermining rural development and setting countries back in their quest for development.
“Countries that are not in conflict and have gone furthest in transforming rural areas in a sustainable way including through better management of water resources, have achieved better food security and nutrition outcomes than those in conflict or with lower levels of rural transformation,” Ahmed Said.
Ahmed also said the consequences were much more than just food insecurity.
“Rising hunger is also compounded by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources, the growing threat of climate change, increasing unemployment rates, and diminished rural infrastructure and services”, he said.
While the security situation in North Africa has improved significantly over the years, Libya remains troubled, with recent clashes in Tripoli threatening to spark chaos for longer.
Some Near East countries are also dogged by conflict including Syria, Yemen and Palestine.