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World Food Programme sounds alarm over ‘deadly’ rise in prices

The UN‘s World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that millions of people could go short of nutrient-rich meals because of rising food prices.

The UN‘s World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that millions of people could go short of nutrient-rich meals because of rising food prices.

“We already have conflict, climate and Covid-19 working together to push more people into hunger and misery. Now food prices have joined the deadly trio,” WFP Chief Economist Arif Husain said on Thursday.

“If you’re a family that already spends two-thirds of your income on food, hikes in the price of food already spell trouble. Imagine what they mean if you’ve already lost part or all of your income because of Covid-19.”

In addition to the pandemic, the Rome-based agency said climate phenomena such as La Nina, a Pacific Ocean weather pattern with far-reaching effects, were also contributing to price hikes.

Looking at regions around the world, WFP experts registered the largest increase in food prices in the Middle East.

In Syria, according to the WFP Market Monitor, the average price of cooking oil increased by 58 per cent in the March-to-May period compared to the previous three months.

In Lebanon, where there is a severe economic crisis, the average price of wheat flour rose 50 per cent for the same comparable period.

Countries in Africa, such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and in South America, such as Venezuela, also saw food prices rise.

The WFP projects that 270 million people will be acutely hungry or at high risk of hunger in 2021. That would represent a 40-per-cent increase over the previous year.

The agency, which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, says its relief efforts this year are the largest in the organization’s history, with aid workers aiming to reach 139 million people worldwide.

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