UAE philanthropists, corporates, and community groups have given generously to the One Billion Meals campaign, which aims to distribute meals and food parcels to those in need across 50 countries. Launched at the start of holy month of Ramadan, and organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the campaign is an extension of last year’s 100 Million Meals fundraiser.
It comes as the world grapples with soaring rates of hunger, due in part to rising food caused in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine (a major exporter of wheat), but also because of climate-related weather events such as droughts and flooding, and the deleterious effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on labour and supply chains.
According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people worldwide are suffering from food insecurity and several countries - including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia - are now inching towards famine.
Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said children were bearing the brunt of the hike in food prices and already high rates of malnutrition was likely to “drastically increase”.
Already in Lebanon, nine out of ten young children are not receiving the food they need, and more than 40 per cent of women and children under the age of five have anaemia. In Yemen, meanwhile, 45 per cent of children are stunted due to poor diets, putting them at risk of severe irreversible physical and cognitive damage.
“We have a ring of fire circling the earth now from the Sahel to South Sudan to Yemen, to Afghanistan, all the way around to Haiti and Central America, warned David Beasley, the executive director of the UN’s World Food Programme speaking at a conference in February.
“If we do not address the situation immediately… we will see famine, we will see destabilization of nations and we will see mass migration.”