The head of the U.N. World Food Program says the COVID-19 crisis has dramatically increased the number of starving people in Latin America, which could trigger a refugee exodus to North America if not addressed.
David Beasley, the agency’s director, issued the warning as the Royal Canadian Air Force began Saturday to prepare to end its nearly two-week mission in which a mammoth C-17 Globemaster transport crisscrossed Central and South America and the Caribbean delivering tonnes of medical supplies.
Beasley said there has been a 269 percent increase in food insecurity in the region since the pandemic struck, and 4.7 million people were already “marching to the brink of starvation” before the pandemic, but now that number has risen to 16 million.
Beasley praised Canada for lending the Globemaster and nearly three dozen personnel to work in tandem with the W.F.P. and World Health Organization to deliver supplies throughout the region from a newly built hub in Panama.
However, he said unless the world answers the biggest humanitarian crisis in the World Food Program’s history, people will die and economic and political upheaval will ensue.