FROM WHERE I STAND: Notes from the desk of peace activist Polly Mann (b. Nov. 19, 1919)

Armed conflict major cause of world hunger.
One of the publications I subscribe to is a newspaper-size 8-page periodical, The Catholic Agitator, the cost of which is minimal. It has a definite viewpoint: that of the poorest, not just the poor but the very poorest, the homeless and the hungry, and I think about it often when I get ready for bed, looking about and reminding myself how lucky I am to be safe and warm in a world in which so many are not. Following is a portion of a recent Agitator article.

“Addressing the World Food Council on March 23rd the World Food Program, WFP, executive director David Beasley explained that the number of hungry people across the globe is rapidly growing because ‘people won’t stop shooting at each other. Wars and conflicts are driving hunger in a way we’ve never seen before.’

“The WFP found that the number of acutely hungry people—meaning they could soon be without food—rose to 124 million. Beasley pointed out that 60% of the 815 million chronically hungry people—those who do not know where they will get their next meal—live in areas experiencing armed conflict. Conflict leads to food insecurity which can also stoke instability and tension which trigger violence. The link between hunger and conflict is as strong as it is destructive. Beasley issued a specific warning about mounting conflicts in Africa’s greater Sahel region, noting, ‘In the five core countries in the Sahel—Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania—acute malnutrition has risen 30% in the past 5 years.’

“His address followed the release of the WFP’s Global Report on Food Crises on March 22nd. The report found that ‘conflict continued to be the main driver of acute food security in 18 countries—15 of them in Africa or the Middle East.’ While conflict is the prime reason for most of the world’s cases of acute food insecurity, an agency statement noted that ‘climate disasters—mainly droughts—were also major triggers of food crises in 23 countries, two-thirds of them in Africa.’ An estimated 39 million people experienced acute food insecurity because of the global climate crisis.

“Beasley concluded that this ‘Global Report on Food Crises shows the magnitude of today’s crises but it also shows that if we bring together political will and today’s technology, we can have a world that’s more peaceful, more stable, and where hunger becomes a thing of the past.’ ”

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