More than 11 million people in Latin America are “marching on the brink of starvation” due to economic conditions exacerbated by a coronavirus pandemic, warned UN food agency chief David Beasley.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating in Latin America, where storm clouds were already breaking,” Beasley said in a statement from the World Food Program (WFP) on Wednesday after traveling to Ecuador and Panama. “Families are trying to buy basics such as food and medicine because livelihoods are being destroyed and the number of unemployed people in the region is reaching 44 million.”;
“We have seen a significant increase in more than 11 million people walking on the brink of starvation,” he said in a video he made during his trip to Ecuador.
Before embarking on the journey, Beasley told CBS News that Latin America was a “time bomb.” He highlighted the point when he returned, arguing that WFP needed additional funding of $ 328 million to support rescue and recovery operations in the region.
WFP spokeswoman Shaza Moghraba shares Beasley’s concerns and told CBS News that “the visit confirmed our concerns about the profound impact that a pandemic will have on the lives of millions of people and the consequences this could have for the region’s stability.” . “
According to an analysis presented by the WFP this week, the number of people with “serious food insecurity” in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to increase by 269% in the coming months. This means that 16 million people will not know where their next meal comes from, 4.3 million a year ago.
“With the increasing number of coronavirus cases, Latin America has become the most affected COVID-19 problem worldwide, accounting for more than a quarter of the world’s cases,” WFP said. “A health pandemic leads to hunger and food insecurity, which can lead to conflict and political unrest and forced migration of vulnerable families.”
Beasley also warned that the situation was likely to multiply.
“You will have political destabilization, mass migration, economic deterioration, supply chain disruption and many people will starve in addition to COVID itself,” he said.
“You can’t just deal with COVID-19 alone or with hunger,” he added. “They must be treated together. If we do it well, we can save lives. If we don’t do it well, people will die. “