While the World Health Organization warns that stringent guidelines need to stay in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, fellow United Nations agency World Food Program (WFP) believes that it will lead to an uptick in global poverty and starvation, and the response to the virus itself may end up killing more people by the end of 2020.
Last week, WFP's executive director David Beasley cautioned the UN Security Council that the risk of large-scale famine in much of the developing world was now "of biblical proportions" as a result of the global pandemic.
"While dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic," Beasley told the council. "There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself."
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Even before the outbreak, 2020 was on track to be the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II due to the ongoing wars in places like Yemen, Syria and South Sudan, compounded with natural disasters and desert locust swarms across Africa.
"We can confidently state that levels have risen. Quarantine regulations, shipping challenges, and overall supply chain issues are compounding and adding to previously existing starvation conditions," Ian Bradbury, CEO of the Canada-based humanitarian organization 1st NAEF, told Fox News.
"We can expect more global deaths due to secondary impacts of COVID-19 than the virus itself — the World Food Program currently estimates that 265 million will be on the brink of starvation by the end of the year."
At the beginning of 2020, some 130 million were already facing dire levels of hunger. That figure could now more than double the number of people facing acute hunger to 265 million by the end of this year.