Hunger in Latin America highest in two decades

Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is at its highest point in two decades with an estimated 38 million hungry people, almost half of them children, the United Nations has said. The rise…

Hunger in Latin America highest in two decades

Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is at its highest point in two decades with an estimated 38 million hungry people, almost half of them children, the United Nations has said.

The rise in hunger is linked to harsh conditions, political instability and recent drought in South America.

The UN statistics agency released figures that it said marked the highest since 1996 when the hunger count was almost 37 million. Hunger has taken a particularly heavy toll on young children. More than a third of children under five are reported to be hungry, mainly because they lack enough food, access to medicines and clean water, the report said.

The UN agency said that hunger was on the rise throughout most of the region, and pointed to Honduras as a region-wide example. The count in Honduras was almost 36,000, almost double the 1990 figure.

The report noted political uncertainty and economic weakness in some Latin American countries, including Venezuela and Argentina, and said effects of droughts in Peru and Bolivia are partly to blame. Some 22 million people were in similar situations in Argentina, the report said.

More than a third of the region’s population receives direct nutrition assistance, according to the UN agency.

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The UN said international organisations have had to fill a void left by governments because of the lack of food production and a lack of commitment by government to invest in agriculture.

According to figures released by the World Food Programme in January, about one billion people are hungry.

Robert Glasser, the UN’s top humanitarian official, said in a statement on Monday: “The hunger burden in the region has never been higher, partly as a result of acute hunger caused by drought.

“Even in the face of economic woes, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain the world’s two most hungry regions. The increase in hunger is a global problem.”

According to a recent report published by Oxfam and Save the Children, an estimated 1.5 billion people are at risk of hunger, and 2.3 billion are struggling with malnutrition. This is due to factors including poverty, inadequate water and sanitation, conflict and climate change.

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