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UN: Over 1 Bln People in Asia-Pacific Facing Food Insecurity due to COVID-19, Ukraine Crisis

Written: 2023-01-25 15:04:28Updated: 2023-01-27 12:14:07

UN: Over 1 Bln People in Asia-Pacific Facing Food Insecurity due to COVID-19, Ukraine Crisis

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: A group of United Nations agencies has released a joint annual report, assessing that a convergence of factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation and urbanization, forced over a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region to struggle with food insecurity and malnutrition.
Kim Bum-soo has this report. 

Report: Four United Nations agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) and the World Food Programme(WFP), published an annual report on Tuesday that said over one billion people in the Asia-Pacific are facing food insecurity.

According to the report, in 2021, an estimated one-point-05 billion people in the region suffered from moderate to severe food insecurity, of which 396 million were undernourished.

This has also led to nearly 75 million children below the age of five, half of the world’s total, to suffer from stunted growth. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation have pushed up the average cost of a healthy diet in the Asia-Pacific to nearly four dollars a day, which is unaffordable for one-point-nine billion people, or 44-point-five percent of the region's population.

The FAO Food Price Index(FPI), which peaked following the outbreak of the Ukraine war last March, has since declined but still remains 28 percent higher than levels from 2020. The agency forecasts food import bills to hit a new record of one-point-94 trillion dollars this year.

In an interview with KBS World Radio, Marian Yun, the director of the World Food Programme Korea Office, said that while the price of food has stabilized in recent months, other rising costs, such as fertilizers, could affect food availability moving forward. 

[Sound bite: Marian Yun - Director, World Food Programme Korea Office] 
“Since June of mid-2020, the cost of fertilizers have increased by about 184-fold… And the disruption on fertilizers is having a compounding effect on production… Our concern in 2023 is really about production levels and food availability.”

She also stressed the impact of climate change on food insecurity, and that failure to address the situation could have consequences for all countries.

[Sound bite: Marian Yun - Director, World Food Programme Korea Office] 
“Destabilization means population movement. People will move if their lives are at risk and if they are vulnerable. So that problem will not stay somewhere else, it could potentially come to our doorstep.” 

Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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