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According to the United Nations, the economic impact of the pandemic and rapidly rising food prices have led to a sharp increase in the number of hungry people around the world.

The number of people without adequate nutrition increased by 320 million last year to 2.4 billion-close to one-third of the world’s population-the United Nations A report Released on Monday. This increase is equivalent to the sum of the previous five years.

The United Nations said that the number of people facing severe food insecurity has reached a record level, sparking concerns about social unrest and increased immigration. Nearly 1 billion people are severely food insecure, an increase of one-fifth from 2019.

Alif Hussein, chief economist of the United Nations World Food Program, said this situation was caused by rising food prices and a sharp decline in household income. “What we are seeing today is a price shock and a sharp drop in income. This effect is devastating,” he said.

He added that this is in sharp contrast to the previous food crises in 2008 and 2011, which were caused by only one of these two factors and not at the same time.

Food Price Index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations It levitated Driven by the drought in major exporting countries and the inventory of some governments and companies, it has increased by 34% in the past year. Developing countries that rely on agricultural imports and less processed foods have a deep sense of price increases.

The line chart of the food price index (2014-2016=100) shows that world food prices have soared

Countries that are already facing economic difficulties and conflicts have been hit particularly hard.Average price of wheat flour LebanonWhere economic turmoil has accelerated in the past year, the price has soared by 219%, while in Syria, the price of edible oil has risen by 440%.

This The International Monetary Fund recently Citing weather disruptions and strong demand for staple foods by humans and animals, as well as soaring transportation costs, are the driving factors for this trend. It said, “Consumers in emerging markets and developing economies will feel the impact most, and they are still fighting the effects of the pandemic.”

Hussein of the United Nations warns of the geopolitical consequences; as people from poorer countries try to flee to richer countries, increasing food insecurity may encourage migration.

The bar chart of the increase in food basket costs* (%) shows that poorer countries are hardest hit by rising food prices

“We must be aware that hunger can lead to conflict, and conflict can lead to instability, which opens the door to events such as terrorism, not only within the country but also across borders, leading to forced displacement,” he said.

Joe Graub, a senior researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute think tank and former chief economist of the United States Department of Agriculture, said that food insecurity is often the fuse of unrest.

“It was sparks that ignited the flames,” he said, citing events in North Africa in 2007-08 and 2011, when wheat prices were at historic highs. He added that the high price of yellow corn in 2007 forced Mexican livestock producers to feed their animals with white corn, which led to the so-called tortilla riots that year.

The International Monetary Fund recently warned that although rising food costs have mainly affected developing countries since the beginning of the pandemic, this trend may hit developed economies later this year.

“The recent sharp rise in international food prices has begun to slowly affect domestic consumer prices in some regions because retailers cannot absorb the rising costs and pass them on to consumers,” it said.

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