Faces of Hunger and Conflict Hope and despair: stories from the frontlines of hunger

Hunger and conflict are interconnected. Without peace we will never achieve Zero Hunger. Conversely, a world without hunger could strengthen the prospects for peace. We must urgently reach a collective understanding: unless we end the wars, we stand no chance of ending hunger.

WFP’s staff is on the ground, assisting over 90 million people in some 80 countries every year. Here, our photographers share the stories of some of the people WFP serves.

Help us amplify the voices of Cecilia, Fatmeh, Ishaq and all the other people portrayed here by using your platforms to advocate and to take action for #ZeroHunger.

"If you don’t have food security, you’re not going to have any other kind of security." David Beasley, Executive Director, UN World Food Programme

Lebanon - Fatmeh struggles to hold back the tears when she talks about her family’s last moments in Idlib, a city she called home until forced to flee. During an attack they hid under a table. They held each other until the shelling subsided and escaped that same day. The rest is a blur. “We had no choice. We had to leave. The next thing I remember is climbing into a car that took us to the border," says Fatmeh.

“She ties scarfs around her boys’ bellies at night so that they don’t wake up crying, because they are hungry”

WFP Communications Officer Dina El Kassaby met Fatmeh in a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. Listen to Dina telling the story about their meeting.

Syria - Ahmed is shy, but still plays peekaboo with WFP’s photographer. At just six years of age, he has lived through one of the world’s worst conflicts, witnessing things a child his age should never have to. He is one of the many millions of people in and around Syria – desperately in need of food, shelter, health and education.

“When I asked her if she would like to have more children, her eyes welled up with tears and she said, ‘No, life is already too tough for me with one sick child’”

WFP Communications Officer Marwa Awad met Ahmed in a refugee camp in Dumair, rural Damascus. Listen to Marwa Awad telling the story about their meeting.

Yemen - Five years old but weighing only 11 kilos, Ishaq is chronically malnourished. From this nutrition centre in Aden, WFP is providing specialized supplements to treat and prevent malnourishment among women and children. The right nutrition at the right time changes lives and builds future generations in the midst of conflict.

“Yemen is a beautiful country. With a lot of beautiful and generous people. It deserves a lot better”

WFP Communications Officer Reem Nada met Isaqh in Yemen. Listen to Reem telling the story about their meeting.

South Sudan - Cecilia, 38, with her son Samuel. To prevent acute malnutrition, Cecilia has recieved a specialized food, Super Cereal Plus, since she was four months pregnant. Since the outbreak of conflict in 2013, South Sudan’s food and nutrition situation has worsened to the point where vast numbers are depending on humanitarian assistance for survival.

“When I look at this picture, I see strength. Cecilia is one of the strong women I met in South Sudan”

WFP Communications Officer Gabriela Vivacqua met Cecilia in her home in Juba, South Sudan. Listen to Gabriela telling the story about their meeting.

Iraq - In Khazer camp, east of Mosul, Ruqiya bakes flat bread using wheat flour provided by WFP. Her family had to leave their home when the offensive to retake West Mosul began in February 2017. A staple in Iraq as in many other countries, bread offers a sense of home to those who no longer have one.

“With very little, they would try to instill some sort of normalcy into their lives”

WFP Communications Officer Inger Marie Vennize met Ruqiya in Iraq. Listen to Inger Marie telling the story about their meeting.

Nigeria - Collecting firewood for cooking is a dangerous task for Nigerian women and girls. Leaving the camp exposes them to insurgent attacks, rape, and in some cases abduction. By distributing safe stoves, WFP cuts the amount of fuel needed to cook and reduces the risk factor for women and girls.

“We must do all we can to reduce the risks that these women incur”

WFP photographer Rein Skullerud met these women under a visit in Nigeria. Listen to Rein telling the story about their meeting.

Faces of Hunger and Conflict

Where there is conflict, there is hunger. And where there is hunger, there is often conflict. After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is again on the rise. Conflicts and insecurity are among the root causes.

Today, almost all the world’s major food crises – 10 out of 13 – are driven by conflict. Of the more than 800 million people facing hunger, 60 percent live in conflict-affected countries. Removing China and India, this proportion jumps to 90 percent. The youngest among us pay the heaviest price: almost 80 percent of all stunted children are to be found in war-torn nations.

UN Security Council Resolution #2417 (2018) recognizes the link between conflict, violence and hunger; expresses deep concern about the threat of famine facing millions of people in armed conflicts and condemns the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Whereas hunger alone may not lead to violence, lack of resources and a sense of injustice can be dangerous when overlaid with sectarian or ethnic differences. Grievances over resources may be further exploited by individuals and groups with an interest in fomenting unrest.

The fact is that food is foundational. Without peace, the global goal of Zero Hunger cannot be achieved by 2030; and while there is hunger, we may never have a peaceful world.

This is why the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has teamed up with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The aim is a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between conflict and hunger and, conversely, of the contributions of food assistance to improving the prospects for peace.

Away from the theoretical models, the people portrayed in this exhibition live at the crossroads of hunger and conflict. This is where they will remain, unless conflicts are ended, and human potential is safeguarded through just and equal access to resources.

Share these stories and help us amplify them. Together we can reach #ZeroHunger. Do you want to support WFP’s life-saving work? Go to wfp.org/donate-now to learn more.

Created By
WFP Sweden

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