Rome, 29th July, 2016 (WAM) – Protracted conflicts affecting 17 countries have driven millions of people into severe food insecurity and are hindering global efforts to eradicate malnutrition, two UN agencies have warned in a report submitted to the UN Security Council.

A new series of 17 country briefs prepared by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) and published today finds that conflicts have now pushed over 56 million people into either “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity when expressed in terms used by the Integrated Food Security Classification Phase (IPC) scale.

Noting in their introduction to the briefs that “conflict is a leading cause of hunger – each famine in the modern era has been characterized by conflict,” FAO Director-General Jos? Graziano da Silva and WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin underscore how hunger feeds violence and drives further instability.

“Conflict undermines food security in multiple ways: destroying crops, livestock and agricultural infrastructure, disrupting markets, causing displacement, creating fear and uncertainty over fulfilling future needs, damaging human capital and contributing to the spread of disease among others. Conflict also creates access problems for governments and humanitarian organizations, which often struggle to reach those in need,” they note.

“Addressing hunger can be a meaningful contribution to peacebuilding,” they argue, adding: “The 2030 Agenda recognizes peace as a vital threshold condition for development, as well as a development outcome in its own right.”

The most recent estimates suggest that approximately half of the global poor now live in states characterized by conflict and violence.

People living in such places can be up to three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in more stable areas.

Post-conflict countries with high food insecurity are 40 percent more likely to relapse into conflict within a 10-year timespan if hunger levels are not addressed.