1 of 2 | The World Food Program said Tuesday it estimates that 40,000 people face starvation for each 1% that its budget is cut. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The United Nations World Food Program warned on Tuesday that the number of people at risk of emergency starvation could rise by 50% because of drastic cuts to its program, leaving 24 million more at risk.
The program said that the drop in funding has already forced the program to pull back from countries in critical need. Officials said last week that it was forced to make cuts in Afghanistan, leaving millions more in major food insecurity and on the brink of starvation.
The program said it estimates that every 1% cut in food assistance risks pushing more than 400,000 people toward the brink of starvation.
"With the number of people around the world facing starvation at record levels, we need to be scaling up life-saving assistance - not cutting it," WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement.
"If we don't receive the support we need to avert further catastrophe, the world will undoubtedly see more conflict, more unrest, and more hunger. Either we fan the flames of global instability, or we work quickly to put out the fire."
The program said that there are 345 million people currently facing acute food insecurity worldwide, with 40 million of these in emergency levels of hunger. It said the depth of hunger often leads people to take desperate measures to survive.
"WFP has been struggling to meet the global need for food assistance while facing a funding shortfall of over 60% this year -- the highest in WFP's 60-year history," the program said. "And for the first time ever, WFP has seen contributions decreasing while needs steadily increase."
The program said it has already made significant cuts in hunger hotspots like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jordan, Palestine, South Sudan, Somalia, and Syria.
"There's only one way out of this," McCain said. "We need to fund emergency operations to feed the hungry today while simultaneously investing in long-term solutions that address the root causes of hunger. Our shared goal must be ending the vicious, unsustainable, and costly cycle of crisis and response."