"We’re very, very, very concerned. 2021's going to be a very bad year."
The head of the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) has a dire message for the world: Unless it gets billions of dollars in new funding, dozens of countries could face severe famines next year.
WFP head David Beasley told The Associated Press that the agency needs to raise $5 billion just to avert global famine, and another $10 billion to feed malnourished children around the world. Otherwise, he said, "we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021."
Beasley says that the WFP was able to avert crisis this past year because world leaders stepped up with funding. But next year that money won't be available, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he pointed to the WFP's recent Nobel Prize win as a major publicity boost that's raised more interest in the UN organization's goals.
"Everybody now wants to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize winner," Beasley told the AP, saying that his typical meeting with a world leader is now 45 instead of 15 minutes.
Meetings alone won't prevent disaster, though — and to supplement limited funding, Beasley tells the AP that he plans to ask the world's billionaires, many of whom became vastly wealthier during the pandemic, to pitch in. Without that support, he says, as many as 36 countries could be in serious trouble.
"We’re very, very, very concerned," Beasley said. "2021's going to be a very bad year."
READ MORE: Nobel UN food agency warns 2021 will be worse than 2020 [The Associated Press]
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