GENEVA - Global hunger levels have increased for the fifth year in a row: More than 280 million people in 59 countries and territories faced high levels of acute hunger last year.

The 2024 Global Report on Food Crises, out Wednesday, attributed the increase to climate and economic shocks, together with the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the wars in Ukraine, Gaza, and Sudan.

In Gaza, half the territory’s entire population of 2.2 million is facing high levels of acute food insecurity. Gian Carlo Cirri, director of the World Food Programme’s Geneva office, told journalists on Wednesday that the only way to avoid famine is to boost food supplies “in a very short time.”

“We've mentioned the necessity to rebuild livelihoods, to address root causes and so on,” he said. “But, in the immediate time, like tomorrow, we really need to significantly increase our food supplies. This means rolling out massive and consistent food assistance in conditions that allow humanitarian staff and supplies to move freely and (for) affected people to access safely the assistance.”

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