UN agency: After years of decline, world hunger is increasing


ROME — The number of hungry people in the world is again on the increase, “reversing years of progress” on the issue, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday, without giving hard data.

“The number of hungry people in the world has increased since 2015, reversing years of progress, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva told members states today,” the Rome-based agency said in a statement at the start of its biennial conference.

Two years ago, FAO calculated that 795 million people in the world – about one in nine – did not have enough to eat. It also hailed the halving of hunger rates in developing countries from 23.3 per cent in 1990-92 to 12.9 per cent in 2014-16.

A FAO press officer said new estimates on world hunger figures would be released in October, but noted that since 2015 the El Nino weather phenomenon and conflicts in places like Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen had worsened the global famine situation.

In a written message to FAO, Pope Francis decried the latest trends.

“A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture. Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned,” he said.

“This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few,” the pope added.