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World Food Programme applauds UN Security Council for tackling link between conflict and hunger

NEW YORK – The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) today hailed the UN Security Council for its leadership in adopting a resolution that for the first time paves the way to address conflict-induced hunger around the world.

“Today’s Security Council vote is a huge step forward toward breaking the cycle of conflict and hunger that stands in the way of prosperity and peace for hundreds of millions of people,” says David Beasley. “The Security Council recognizes that food security is an essential factor in bringing about peace and security, and we look forward to future opportunities within the Security Council to address food insecurity’s role both as a result and driver of conflicts worldwide.”

Around the world, 60 percent of the 815 million chronically hungry people live in a conflict zone; that’s 489 million people suffering man-made, preventable hunger. Children pay an especially horrible price – an estimated 122 million of the 155 million stunted children in the world live in countries affected by conflict. 

Over the past two years, the number of people with acute food insecurity has risen 55 percent, from 80 million to 124 million, according to the latest Global Food Crises Report, released in March. Conflict and insecurity were the primary drivers of hunger for 74 million of those with acute food insecurity – which is when hunger is so severe it poses an immediate threat to lives or livelihoods. 

“In every conflict zone I have visited, the people I talk to ask for peace as often as they ask for help getting food,” Beasley says. “For decades, we’ve made progress against hunger, but now we’re going backwards, and it’s nearly all because people won’t stop shooting at each other. We need global leaders to build on today’s Security Council actions to work with us to help end hunger and create peace, stability and lasting development in the regions where so many people are suffering.”

The resolution, officially #2417 (2018), emphasizes “deep concern that ongoing armed conflicts and violence have devastating humanitarian consequences, often hindering an effective humanitarian response, and are therefore a major cause of the current risk of famine.”  

The resolution appeals to all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including taking care to spare materials needed for producing and distributing food, such as farms, markets, mills and water systems. It strongly condemns starving civilians as a method of warfare, which is prohibited by international humanitarian law and which “may constitute a war crime.”

The resolution asks the Secretary-General to continue providing information on the risk of famine and food insecurity in countries with armed conflict as part of his regular comprehensive reporting on country-specific situations. 

Championed by a core group consisting of Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Sweden, the resolution was supported unanimously by the SC’s 15 members. Beasley especially thanked the governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland, which led a high-profile UN discussion series on this issue over the past year. 

For Broadcast:  video footage from South Sudan, Syria, Yemen available here
Photo material on WFP food operations in conflict zones available here

Background reading Winning the Peace: Hunger and Instability   

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob.  +1-202-770-5993
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel +41-22-917-8564, Mob. +41-79-842-8057 
Gregory Barrow, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513-2150, Mob. +393428079718
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352, Mob. +201066634352 
Gerald Bourke, WFP/Johannesburg, Tel. +27 11 517 1577, Mob. +27 82 908 1417 
George Fominyen, WFP/Dakar, Tel. +221 338496500, Mob. +221776394271
Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 207 622 179, Mob. +254 707 722 104 
Silke Buhr, WFP/Bangkok, Tel. + 66 2 6598616, Mob. +66 (0) 81-701-9208

NOTE: An earlier version of this press release reported a wrong Security Council resolution number, which now has been corrected.