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ROME/GENEVA: Five UN agencies report 735 million people face hunger worldwide - over 122 million more people since 2019 due to the pandemic, repeated weather shocks and conflicts including the war in Ukraine.

The goal of ending hunger by 2030 will not be reached say the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UNICEF, WHO and the World Food Programme (WFP), in a combined report.

Africa remains the worst-affected region with one in five people facing hunger, more than twice the global average.

“There are rays of hope, some regions are on track to achieve some 2030 nutrition targets. But overall, we need an intense and immediate global effort to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals. We must build resilience against the crises and shocks that drive food insecurity-from conflict to climate," says UN secretary-general António Guterres.

The report finds that approximately 29.6 percent of the global population, equivalent to 2.4 billion people, did not have constant access to food, as measured by the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity. Among them, around 900 million individuals faced severe food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the capacity of people to access healthy diets has deteriorated across the world: more than 3.1 billion people – or 42 percent – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021, an overall increase of 134 million people compared to two years previously.

Millions of children under five continue to suffer from malnutrition: in 2022, 148 million children under five years of age (22.3 percent) were stunted, 45 million (6.8 percent) were wasted, and 37 million (5.6 percent) were overweight.

“Hunger is rising while the resources we urgently need to protect the most vulnerable are running dangerously low,” comments WFP executive director Cindy McCain. “As humanitarians, we are facing the greatest challenge we’ve ever seen. We need the global community to act swiftly, smartly, and compassionately to reverse course and turn the tide on hunger.”

In 2020, the WFP was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger, its contribution to improving conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas, and as a driving force to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

Last year the world’s largest humanitarian organization provided assistance to 160 million people in 120 countries via a logistics fleet that includes 140 aircraft and 20 ships.
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