Defined as any lack of food that threatens lives, livelihoods or both, acute food insecurity is affecting, or is at high risk of impacting, a record 270 million people this year, the UN agency said.
“High food prices are hunger’s new best friend,” said WFP chief economist Arif Husain. “We already have conflict, weather and COVID-19 working together. Now food prices have joined the lethal trio.”
The WFP said average wheat flour prices in Lebanon have risen 219% year-on-year amid accelerating economic turmoil, while cooking oil prices have soared 440% compared to last year in a Syria ravaged by war.
In internationally traded markets, world food prices rose 33.9% year-on-year in June, according to the UN food agency’s price index, which measures a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar. However, they fell in June versus May, the first such decline in 12 months. After declining for several decades, world hunger has been on the rise since 2016.
The WFP, which received the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said that some 690 million people or 9% of the world’s population go to bed hungry every night. This year it aims to assist 139 million people, the largest operation in its history.