Conflict and violence threatens food security for 85 per cent of 258 million people in 58 countries, according to a new Action Against Hunger report.
In “No Matter Who’s Fighting, Hunger Always Wins,” the nonprofit organization analyzes evidence from a wide range of conflicts around the world to identify the specific and complex connections between conflict and hunger.
Five years ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2417, which recognizes the deadly link between conflict and hunger. It declared using starvation as a weapon may constitute a war crime. However, there have been no prosecutions for starvation crimes and conflict-driven hunger has been on the rise, the report stated.
“Conflict is the top driver of hunger around the world, yet both conflict and hunger are preventable,” said Michelle Brown, Associate Director of Advocacy for Action Against Hunger. “The alarming resurgence of global hunger goes hand-in-hand with the growing number and intensity of armed conflicts and the flagrant disregard of international humanitarian law by warring parties.”
DRIVER OF HUNGER
In 2022, populations experienced famine conditions across seven countries – Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Haiti, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. All these countries faced protracted conflict or insecurity. The alarming resurgence of hunger in the world goes hand-in-hand with the rising number and intensity of armed conflicts. Moreover, it is also because of the disregard of international humanitarian law (IHL) by warring parties, of which civilians are the main victims.
THE IMPACT OF CONFLICTS
Armed conflict and insecurity – including inter communal violence, organised crime and other forms of violence – erode food security and nutrition in multiple ways. In some cases, the impact of conflict is direct, with armed parties using administrative measures or violent actions with the intent of severely obstructing access to food and essential services. The use hunger as a weapon, the report said.
More widespread are the impacts of conflict on disrupting livelihoods and food production, displacing communities, and limiting access to food markets and health care. It include destroying crops and pasture, looting productive assets, mine contamination and the destruction of basic services and infrastructure. All these amount to violations of humanitarian law when they take place in times of armed conflict, it said.
International humanitarian law prohibits blockades, forced displacement, mine contamination, and attacks on land, food, water, and humanitarian workers. Yet, Action Against Hunger and other organizations report that those actions take place with impunity and leave people with few options for feeding themselves and their families.
The report states that around one in five child deaths globally are attributable to wasting. This condition, which affects around 150 children globally is easily treatable. However, majority of children affected do not have access to treatment.
“The world has made commitments and built frameworks to protect civilians and to stop hunger from being used as a weapon of war. As millions face food insecurity in conflicts, now is the time to translate those promises into meaningful action,” said Brown. “We urge UN member states to use their influence and their investments to hold warring parties accountable for violations of international law. They should guarantee safe delivery of lifesaving assistance to communities in need, and to build peace and food security globally.”
The report details the ways how acts of violence drive hunger. It offers recommendations how states can reduce conflict-driven hunger and invest in peacebuilding to prevent food insecurity.