Apart from the global panic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is also anxiety over a possible famine. It's not enough that the proper idea of starvation is a natural result of people's constant jelly due to the coronavirus, but Executive Director of the UN World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley has added fuel to the fire. According to him, famine looms large over hundreds of millions of people. Beasley's words assumed an entirely apocalyptic importance in the light of his having referred to the future food shortage as "famines of biblical proportions."
As things stand today on a global scale when news reports from throughout the world are more like military communiqués, such statements, rolled-out by the sensation-seeking Western media, may spark panic in different countries and regions. In turn, panic may cause trigger an extremely inappropriate behavior of people, various kinds of protests, riots and upheavals. There is a need to figure out what Beasley has said and, probably, to quote him in greater detail.
His speech was addressed to the UN Security Council via conference call. A detailed summary of Beasley's speech was later posted on the official WFP website. What did he say? According to him, "there are 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse... and an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020 due to the coronavirus." He further pointed out that the world is now experiencing "deepening crises, more frequent natural disasters and changing weather patterns." And coronavirus is here to make things worse. "We are already facing the perfect storm," Beasley said, painting a gray and bleak picture of what's to come.
And then, finally, it becomes clear what should be virtually considered the essence of his speech. "If we can’t reach these people – if we can’t give them the lifesaving assistance they need... – WFP’s analysis shows that 300,000 could starve to death every single day for the next three months," Beasley said, adding (mind your eye!) that "this doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus." It turns out he is talking primarily about regions with ongoing armed conflicts. That's where the trouble lies! But everyone knows that refugee flows and famine caused by armed conflicts are a hallmark of these conflicts without any pandemics. The WFP head urged the Security Council to "lead the way" in helping those in need and summarized: "First and foremost, we need peace." As if the Security Council didn't know that without him.
"Famine is a very real and dangerous possibility," the head of the WFP went on to reinvent the wheel. He urged all the combatants to ensure "swift and unimpeded humanitarian access to all vulnerable communities." He further called for the Security Council's coordinated action to help save lives, as well as allocate "$350 million to set up a network of logistics hubs and transportation systems to keep humanitarian supply chains moving around the world." Wasn't such a network of logistics hubs needed before the pandemic?
Beasley went on to indicate the need for early warning systems and resorted to mentioning the Bible for greater effect: "If we don’t prepare and act now to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade, we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months."
Well, no one disputes that refugees and victims of military conflicts should be helped. But this need appeared not today. Millions of refugees crossed the territories of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen as a result of wars even before the pandemic. The exodus of refugees from Venezuela and Central American countries, with no war but a comparable economic and social crisis, is estimated in hundreds of thousands. And the question arises as to why is it only now that the UN World Food Program brings up this issue so urgently? After all, the catastrophic refugee situation in these regions appeared long before the pandemic. Helping people amid a pandemic is possible, as Russia and China have shown convincingly by sending tons of humanitarian supplies and special equipment to Italy and Serbia.
Mr. Beasley, to put it bluntly, is knocking at on open door. His restlessness has a special connotation in the context of the wave the US has raised against the leadership of another UN structure – the World Health Organization (WHO) – accusing it of running counter to the US interests. It is clear from the tough tone of the Americans, who have a hand in funding the UN structures and do not hesitate to lobby their candidates for particular posts in the UN bureaucracy, that the position of WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus is a house of cards.
At least, that's what another high-ranking and highly paid UN official, Director of the World Food Program Mr. Beasley, might think. Is he afraid of the clouds amassing over him? After all, they may also amass over the World Food Program at the mercy of the world hegemon. Maybe that's why he calls on the UN Security Council to "act wisely and act fast" so that no one finds fault with the WFP for doing nothing to avoid famine. As is commonly known, a danger foreseen is half avoided.