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Oxfam Names Afghanistan As Hunger 'Hot Spot' Amid World Famine Rise

Afghan men and children reach out for food donated by a charity in Mazar-e Sharif. (file photo)

The international charity Oxfam says 11 people around the world die of hunger each minute of every day, well above the global death rate of COVID-19, with war making Afghanistan one of “the worst hunger hot spots."

Oxfam said in a report on hunger, published on July 9, that 155 million people around the world are now living in crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, an increase of some 20 million from last year.

It added that around two-thirds of these people are going hungry primarily because their country is in war and conflict, including Afghanistan, where 13.2 million people, or 42 percent of the population, were in "crisis-level hunger or worse," making it the third-most food-insecure nation in the world.

"A year and a half since the pandemic began, deaths from hunger are outpacing the virus," the report said, noting that the COVID-19 global death rate is around seven people per minute.

"Ongoing conflict, combined with the economic disruptions of the pandemic and an escalating climate crisis, has deepened poverty and catastrophic food insecurity in the world’s hunger hotspots and established strongholds in new epicentres of hunger," it added.

Oxfam urged governments to end conflicts that are helping spawn “catastrophic hunger” and to ensure conditions that allow relief agencies to reach those in need.

Meanwhile, wealthier nations should “immediately and fully” fund the U.N.’s efforts to alleviate hunger, the report said.

Contributing to the crisis is a 40 percent rise in global food prices -- the highest in over a decade -- due to climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our warming climate is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters such as storms, floods, and droughts," the report said. "Despite this, governments have delayed action to tackle the climate crisis to focus instead on the pandemic."

Oxfam said Afghanistan was a prime example of how conflict, climate, and the coronavirus pandemic -- what the charity calls the three Cs -- have exacerbated the hunger crisis.

It said a second wave of the virus, compounded by a surge in violence due to the U.S. troop withdrawal, resulted in a major loss of business, informal employment, massive human displacements, and a sharp drop in remittances. Furthermore, drought has further devastated local crops.

"Today, the country remains the third-most food insecure in the world...Two million more people have gone to bed hungry since last year. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has soared sixfold in four years," it noted.

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