UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday that the world is facing an impending global food emergency as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic threatens already strained supply chains.
He added that the threat to the world’s food supply could negatively impact hundreds of millions of people.
“There is more than enough food in the world to feed our population of 7.8 billion people. But, today, more than 820 million people are hungry,” he said.
Gutteres’ comments came as part of a statement reviewing the UN policy brief on the coronavirus’ impact on food security and nutrition.
“Our food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,” Guterres said. He said that, around the world, about 144 million children under the age of five are stunted, more than one in five children worldwide.
Guterres warned, “This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Unless immediate action is taken, he warned, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions worldwide.
Guterres called for better protection for workers in the food sector, and for humanitarian aid deliveries to be safeguarded. He also called for increased support of food producers and distributors, to avoid interruptions to the supply chain.
In April, the UN raised the alarm about a potential explosion in the number of people at severe risk of hunger due to the coronavirus pandemic.