Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Yemen famine

A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment in Al-Sabeen Hospital in the capital city of Sana'a on October 25, 2021. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

In Urgent Appeal, UN Hunger Agency Warns Millions of People Facing Starvation

"There are now more than 45 million people marching towards the brink of starvation."

Brett Wilkins

Warning that more than 45 million people around the globe—but most acutely in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East—are in imminent danger of starvation, the head of the United Nations World Food Program on Monday urgently appealed to political leaders, the superrich, and people in the Global North for help.

"When there's $400 trillion worth of wealth on the Earth today, shame on us that we let any child die of hunger."

"Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss," WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement. "We've got conflict, climate change, and Covid-19 driving up the numbers of the acutely hungry, and the latest data show there are now more than 45 million people marching towards the brink of starvation."

Beasley—who traveled to Afghanistan, where the WFP is increasing efforts to provide aid to 23 million people—added that "fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertilizer is more expensive, and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria."

In addition to Afghanistan, the WFP identified Yemen—where a six-year, U.S.-backed Saudi-led intervention in a civil war has caused widespread hunger—as well as war-torn Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Madagascar as the hardest-hit among 43 countries suffering food crises.

In a BBC interview Monday, Beasley—a former Republican governor of South Carolina—said that the situation in Afghanistan "is as bad as you can possibly imagine. Ninety-five percent of the people don't have enough food."

The BBC also interviewed desperate Afghans, who are bracing for an especially cold winter and who are receiving less food aid since the Taliban retook control of the country earlier this year.

"I've got nothing to give the children," said Fatema, a single mother of seven from Bamiyan in central Afghanistan. "Soon I'll have to go out and beg."

The WFP says families facing acute food shortages are being forced to make "devastating choices to cope with the rising hunger."

"In Madagascar, where pockets of famine are already a reality, some are being forced to eat locusts, wild leaves, or cactus to survive," the agency reports.

According to WFP, the cost of averting famine globally is $7 billion. Beasley recently noted that the 400 wealthiest Americans collectively got $1.8 trillion richer during the Covid-19 pandemic and that it would require less than 0.4% of that amount to prevent worldwide famine.

"Imagine that this was your little girl or your little boy or your grandchild about to starve to death, you would do everything you possibly could," he told BBC. "And when there's $400 trillion worth of wealth on the Earth today, shame on us that we let any child die of hunger."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Next Up? Legalize It': Advocates Cheer Biden Move to Pardon Marijuana Convictions

"This is what pressure and advocacy look like," said anti-poverty activist Joe Sanberg. "This must be the first of many steps to ending our decadeslong failed policies on marijuana."

Brett Wilkins ·


At Least 66 Clinics in 15 States Have Ended Abortion Care Post-Dobbs

Over a third of those facilities have fully closed, meaning patients also lost "access to contraceptive care, STI testing and treatment, and pregnancy care," said a Guttmacher Institute researcher.

Jessica Corbett ·


US Jobless Claims Jump as Fed Shoves Economy to 'Precipice of Global Recession'

One expert called on Powell "to think twice before plunging our economy into a wholly avoidable recession and completely undoing one of the strongest job recoveries on record."

Jake Johnson ·


'Flying Blind': Analysis Shows World's Biggest Polluters Hide Climate-Related Financial Risks

"When companies don't take climate-related matters into account, their financial statements may include overstated assets, understated liabilities, and overstated profits," said one expert at analysis firm Carbon Tracker.

Julia Conley ·


After Dumping $15 Billion Into Fossil Fuels, World Bank Urged to Stop 'Investing in Climate Disaster'

"If the World Bank wants to be a part of the solution rather than the problem, it needs to stop funding fossil fuels and unlock billions in order to support the transition to renewable energy across the globe and end poverty and inequality," said one campaigner.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo