Investment and development should follow conflict resolution, Arif Husain, Chief Economist of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said during his visit in Brussels where he attended a special session of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE), dedicated to food security. Mr. Husain is also WFP’s Director of the Food Security Analysis and Trends Service and an author of a number of flagship reports highlighting the links between hunger, conflict, migration and climate change.
He also highlighted the latest UN report on world food security, according to which hunger is on rise again, affecting about 815 million people worldwide. This number represents 38 million more people than the previous year. About 80% of the WFP’s resources are used in the countries going through conflicts. “That is one of biggest messages. If we want to get to zero hunger by 2030, which is the second Sustainable Development Goal, we must regress conflict first”, he said.
The WFP holds that two conditions must be met to fully help people in conflict-ridden countries – full humanitarian access and enough resources – “the right benefit at the right time in a sustained way”. The biggest humanitarian challenges are currently faced by Yemen, North-East Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia. “But if the conflict doesn’t go away, we will have to continue to do this”, Mr. Husain added.
In 2016, $27 billion was allocated to humanitarian assistance worldwide. This was a fourth annual consecutive increase but despite that, this assistance was still only 40% short of what was needed. Moreover, about half of this amount went to five countries, namely Syria, Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan and Ethiopia. “The other half went to 43 countries, but in those 43 countries, compared to what was needed, some countries got 5%, some countries got 95%”, he said. For example, in Yemen, there were 17 million people in need of assistance this year while the international donors provided only 7 million. “The point is that money is coming in, but because conflicts are not going away, it is not enough”, he repeated.