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THE number of children forced into hunger and malnutrition by extreme weather more than doubled last year, Save the Children warned today.
The charity said that 57 million people were pushed into “crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse” in 12 countries during 2022, with children making up 27 million — almost half.
It represents a 135 per cent increase on 2021’s figure, the charity said as it called on global climate summit Cop28 — which starts in Dubai tomorrow — to ensure increased finance from richer countries to help poor ones weather the impact of climate chaos.
Save the Children UK chief executive officer Gwen Hines said: “In a world where wildfires, floods, droughts and hurricanes are becoming the frightening new normal, children today not only face a climate emergency but a landscape of heightened inequalities, where hunger is an unwelcome guest at an already crowded table.
“Prioritising investment in children’s health, nutrition, education, protection and safety nets must be at the forefront of global efforts ... at Cop28, world leaders must listen to the demands of children and invite them to be part of proposing solutions.”
Increasingly severe wildfires, floods and droughts are having a devastating impact on crop production in many countries. In Pakistan, where a third of the country was submerged by floodwater in 2022, over two million children are acutely malnourished a year later.
Food scarcity drives up prices, while governments are increasingly restricting food exports to protect domestic supplies, forcing them up further. The International Food Policy Research Institute said 19 countries had placed bans or severe restrictions on the export of staple crops by September this year.
Soaring food prices were a factor in deadly riots in Kenya this summer, where drought hit domestic production at the same time as neighbour Tanzania slapped new restrictions on exports.
Weather extremes were the main cause of hunger in 12 countries, Save the Children said, 10 of them in Africa (the exceptions being Pakistan and Iraq).
Conflict is still a greater cause of hunger worldwide than extreme weather, Save the Children says, with war “the primary driver of hunger for 117 million people in 19 countries” last year.
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