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The World Food Programme (WFP) today said that the relentless rise of hunger, deepening inequality and an active hurricane season are threatening the people of Latin America and the Caribbean and may have far-reaching consequences unless swift action is taken.

Latin America has become the region most affected by the virus, accounting for over a quarter of the world’s cases.

WFP said the region is set to see a 269 per cent rise in the number of people facing severe food insecurity, bringing the total to 16 million people not knowing where their next meal is coming from in the coming months, up from 4.3 million last year.

From its regional humanitarian hub in Panama, WFP is supporting the logistics for the pandemic response, transporting humanitarian and health cargo to the front lines.  WFP is providing food rations for children no longer able to attend schools, and vouchers and cash so people can shop at local stores.  It is also helping Governments strengthen and expand national safety‑net programmes.

Currently, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI) report, 4 million children under 5 years of age suffer overweight (7.5% of the total), 700 000 suffer wasting (1.3%), and 4.8 million are stunted (9%).

For adults, things fare even worse in terms of overweight and obesity. “Today, for every person who suffers hunger, six are overweight”, said a leading official, calling for a major regional push against all forms of malnutrition.

According to the The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), 9 percent of the Latin American population (only South and Central America, since there is no data available for the Caribbean) suffered severe food insecurity in 2018, while 21.9 percent suffered moderate food insecurity.

The rate of severe food insecurity reached 10.6 percent for Central America and 8.3 percent for South America.