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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

How Conflicts Create Hunger

Content by: South-South News

26 March 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the Security Council on March 23 that the Council could “help prevent famine ever occurring again” adding that hunger was the “clear corollary to the vicious cycle of displacement and conflict.”

Speaking via teleconference from Dublin, Lowcock said it was possible to eradicate famine from the human condition within our lifetime. He noted that the remaining risk of famine and hunger was now concentrated in a relatively small number of countries affected by large-scale, severe and protracted conflict. He stressed that the behavior of combatants in these contexts is “often atrocious” as humanitarian access is difficult or denied and starvation “used as a method of warfare” in some cases.

Lowcock, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said the Security Council had the means to investigate violations of international humanitarian law adding that there were “no humanitarian solutions to conflict.” He emphasized that only peace and political solutions “will disrupt the vicious cycle of conflict and hunger.”

Speaking from Biel, Switzerland via teleconference, World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley said the number of people who are acutely hungry in the world has increased by 55 percent in just the last two years, to reach 124 million. He said people living in conflict situation are facing tough choices when they cannot ensure where their children’s next meal was coming from. He stressed that terrorist groups, want to use food “as a weapon of recruitment, a weapon of war” and called on the international community to use food “as a weapon of reconstruction, a weapon of peace, a weapon of bringing people together.”

Beasley noted that each one percent rise in the rate of hunger was matched by a two percent increase in migration. He added that the price of programs to tackle the root causes of hunger was far cheaper that the cost of the current conflict cycle adding that WFP could save one billion USD a year if all armed groups respected international humanitarian law. He also stressed that ending wars was not enough and called on the international community to help people in war-torn areas rebuild their communities in the long term.

The WFP head said the Security Council “has a chance to do more to impact the world than any other time period in our history because we are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the history of the United Nations.” He called on Council members to work together to end conflict and ensure the delivery of humanitarian and development support, otherwise “we will never solve world hunger; because hunger is directly related to conflict, conflict is directly related to hunger.”

Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag said the main cause of hunger was man-made conflict. She said the unthinkable was happening as hunger was once again on the rise adding that conflict and hunger do not respect national borders. Kaag said the fact that this is happening in the 21st century, “in an age of unparalleled progress, technological possibilities and wealth, is shameful.” She stressed that if people are the main cause of famine and food insecurity in conflict situations, “then surely people are able to solve this issue; this means the end of famine depends on political will.”

The Dutch Minister said hunger is the most avoidable of disasters and starvation “is the most heinous method of warfare.” She said it was upon the Security Council “to ensure that starving civilians will become a crime of the past, a practice both forbidden and punishable.”

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