Apr 23, 2020 - World

Coronavirus pandemic could put 265 million worldwide at risk of starvation

Volunteer in Myanammar rations food for low-income families
A volunteer prepares packages of dry rations of food and commodities for low-income families in Myanmar. Photo: Shwe Paw Mya Tin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nearly 265 million people worldwide could be pushed to starvation by the end of the year as the coronavirus pandemic strains supply chains, agricultural production and national economies, the New York Times reports.

The state of play: Measures in place to combat the illness, such as social distancing and lockdowns, have made it nearly impossible for many around the world to work and be able to feed their families.

  • Refugees and those living in conflict zones will likely be impacted the most.
  • Even before the pandemic, the UN estimated that 135 million people would struggle with food security and acute malnutrition in 2019.

The state of play: Countries have struggled with severe hunger crises before, but those were often caused by a single factor like extreme weather or political instability.

  • While they usually can rely on the developed world for assistance, that may not come as countries all over the world face a depressed global economy.

What to watch: Countries could struggle with planting, harvesting and transporting food in the coming months, severely impacting poor nations reliant on imports.

  • For example, nations in Africa and the Middle East are currently fighting a huge locust plague and could see another swarm.

Go deeper: Rising global food insecurity could exacerbate coronavirus

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