By SHRI RAM SHAW

NEW DELHI : The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. Covid-19 is a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library is presenting an exploration of 75 key documents that have shaped the United Nations and our world. The documents selected honour the historic breadth of the Organization’s work in the areas of peace and security, humanitarian assistance, development and human rights.

CHRONIC HUNGER LOOMS LARGE THIS YEAR

Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 seems to be a far cry as the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World has come up with a startling report which estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic could tip over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020 across the planet.

This joint report is issued annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It presents the latest estimates on food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition at the global and regional levels.

Writing in the foreword of the report, the heads of the five agencies have warned that “five years after the world committed to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, we are still off track to achieve this objective by 2030’’.

However, the latest report says that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 – up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years. High costs and low affordability also mean billions cannot eat healthily or nutritiously. As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems. While it is too early to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, the report says that 130 million more people may go hungry in 2020. The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for zero hunger.

The hungry are most numerous in Asia, but expanding fastest in Africa. Hunger is on the rise in almost all African sub-regions, making Africa the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment. Hunger is also slowly rising in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Western Asia shows a continuous increase since 2010, with more than 12 percent of its population undernourished today.

WHO, UNICEF WARNING ON LIFE SAVING VACCINES

WHO and UNICEF have warned of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world. This is due to disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunization services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest data shows that improvements such as the expansion of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine to 106 countries and greater protection for children against more diseases are in danger of lapsing. These disruptions threaten to reverse hard-won progress to reach more children and adolescents with a wider range of vaccines, which has already been hampered by a decade of stalling coverage.