Food security in Middle East, North Africa deteriorating, says U.N. agency

Food security in Middle East, North Africa deteriorating, says U.N. agency
Thu Dec 21, 2017 13:08:53

Food security in the Middle East and North Africa is quickly deteriorating because of conflict in several countries in the region, the United Nations said on Thursday.

(Reuters) -- In those hardest hit by crises -- Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Sudan -- an average of more than a quarter of the population was undernourished, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said in its annual report on food security.

A quarter of Yemen’s people are on the brink of famine, several years into the war between the Yemeni Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition that has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

The report focused on changes to food security and nutrition across the region since 2000.

It said that undernourishment in countries not directly affected by conflict, such as most Persian Gulf Arab states and most North African countries including Egypt, had slowly improved in the last decade. But it had worsened in conflict-hit countries.

“The costs of conflict can be seen in the measurements of food insecurity and malnutrition,” the FAO’s assistant director-general Abdessalam Ould Ahmed said.

“Decisive steps towards peace and stability (need to be) taken.”

(Photo: A Syrian woman and her children wait for food aid in front of an humanitarian aid distrubition center in Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

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