This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 could cause acute food insecurity for 250 million people, say UN agencies
More than a quarter of a billion people could suffer from acute hunger by the end of 2020 because of the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies, which on Tuesday warned that COVID-19 could almost double the number of people who are already critically hungry now, in 55 countries.
According to the Global Report on Food Crises, produced by WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development partners, 75 million children were stunted and 17 million suffered from wasting in 2019.
The forecasted spike in the number of people at particular risk of COVID-19 relates to 183 million people who were found to be on the cusp of acute hunger last year.
Faced with the new coronavirus, they are unlikely to withstand the shock to their food insecurity, the report suggests.
Regionally, more than half (73 million) of the 135 million people covered by the report are in Africa; 43 million live in the Middle East and Asia; 18.5 million are from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The key reasons for food insecurity are conflict, (pushing 77 million people into acute food insecurity), weather extremes (34 million) and economic turbulence (24 million).
In order of severity, the 10 worst food crises last year were Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, northern Nigeria, and Haiti.
Together, they constituted 88 million acutely food insecure people and accounted for 65 per cent of all people in acute need.
Massive floods in DRC’s South Kivu impact 80,000 people, kill dozens
Aid is being rushed to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where deadly flooding has swept away people and homes and affected tens of thousands more, including many displaced by violence, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.
Announcing assistance measures for South Kivu province in coordination with local partners, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said that torrential rainfall in Uvira town in recent days, had led to heavy flooding of the Mulongwe river, impacting 80,000 people.
“Initial reports suggest more than 25 people have died because of the floods and more than 40 injured with fears of many others swept away by the floodwaters. A health clinic in one of Uvira’s poorer neighbourhoods was destroyed and water and sanitation facilities in the overcrowded town were also damaged. We are rushing initial supplies of relief items from its local warehouse in Uvira, including
badly needed tarpaulins to provide immediate shelter, as well as mats, kitchen sets, buckets and mosquito nets.”
At least 15,000 homes have been damaged in Uvira.
The flooding is just the latest challenge for a region that’s among the hardest hit by years of insecurity, conflict and endemic disease, such as cholera and malaria.
Iron deficiency guidelines unveiled for pregnant women and infants
Finally, new UN guidelines have been released to detect iron deficiencies in individuals in order to prevent significant and irreversible effects on brain development in children.
A lack of iron is the main cause of anaemia, which is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide; affecting 40 per cent of pregnant women and 42 per cent of children.
In pregnant women, iron deficiency can cause anaemia, reduced birth weight and reduced gestation periods.
In the wider population, iron deficiency can also have negative effects including fatigue, impaired physical performance and decreased work productivity.
The advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) is aimed at clinical workers so that they can identify and treat pregnant mothers and babies at risk.
The recommendations show how to measure the protein ferritin in people, as it’s an indicator of how much iron is stored in our bodies.
For further details, just visit the WHO website.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.