The executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), is predicting that sections of the world are facing multiple famines of "biblical proportions" and this could happen in just a matter of months.
According to David Beasley, the COVID-19 pandemic will push an additional 130-million people to the brink of starvation.
In an address on Thursday, Beasley said the famines could take place in about three dozen countries.
He said ten of those countries already have more than 1 million people on the verge of starvation and cited conflict, an economic recession, a decline in aid and a collapse in oil prices as factors likely to lead to vast food shortages, and urged swift action to avert disaster.
"While dealing with a Covid-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic," David Beasley told the United Nation’s security council.
"There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of Covid-19 than from the virus itself."
The WFP had already warned that 2020 would be a devastating year for numerous countries ravaged by poverty or war, with 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. Their updated projections nearly double that number.
The countries listed by WFP, could face an excruciating trade-off between saving lives or livelihoods or, in a worst-case scenario, saving people from the coronavirus to have them die from hunger.
Ten countries were singled out as particularly at-risk, after housing the worst food crises last year; Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti.
Most of those countries have so far been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with the epicenter moving from China to Europe to North America, but the state of their healthcare institutions means even relatively small outbreaks could be devastating.
To date, more than 2.5 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed globally.