Yemen was the most extreme example of a significant rise in hunger. Between 2015 and 2017 the number of people facing a food crisis rose by more than half, to 124 million in 51 countries, the United Nations reported.
The changing climate means that hunger is likely to remain a major concern in 2019, when an El Niño event, the Pacific climate cycle that typically amplifies heat and is usually associated with record-breaking temperatures, is expected, Mr. Lowcock noted. An assessment by the United Nations found that 25 countries were at high risk of drought, tropical cyclones and floods.
The bigger cause of hunger remained conflict and insecurity, which displaced close to 69 million people in 2017 and drove up levels of poverty, malnutrition and disease, while hampering deliveries of humanitarian aid.
In South Sudan, where the situation is among the most dire, five years of civil war had left five million people, or half the population, in need of food aid heading into 2019, the United Nations said.
The horrific ethnic violence in South Sudan, which is estimated to have cost more than 380,000 lives and devastated its fragile economy, underscores another worrying trend: Increasingly protracted crises that monopolize ever higher shares of available aid.
In the past five years, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Somalia have absorbed more than half of all international humanitarian aid, the United Nations reported. Three years ago, conflicts that had lasted more than five years accounted for less than half the available aid; last year they took more than 80 percent.
The trend is deeply worrying, James Munn, Geneva director of the Norwegian Refugee Council said in statement. “Humanitarian assistance will never become anything but a band-aid solution,” he warned, adding that the victims of conflicts need warring parties and countries with influence over them to find political solutions.
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