The United Nations has warned the world could be facing the risk of widespread famines “of biblical proportions” due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. A recently released report says the number of people suffering from hunger could go from 135 million to more than 250 million. Head of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said urgent action was needed in order to avoid the catastrophe.

People who are more likely to suffer from hunger are those in countries affected by climate change, economic crisis and conflict, the WFP says. The fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises highlights 10 countries including Nigeria, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria. Even before the Coronavirus hit, parts of South Asia and East Africa were already experiencing food shortages caused by drought and locust infestations.

While addressing the UN Security Council during a video conference, Mr. Beasley said it is high time for the world to “act wisely and act fast.” The head of WFP- who recently recovered from Covid-19– added: “we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”  Earlier this month, the WFP said it was set to halve aids to parts of war-torn Yemen that is controlled by Houthi rebels due to the ongoing funding crisis.  Some donors had actually stopped their aid amid concerns the Houthi forces obstructed deliveries.

Arif Husain, the WFP’s senior economist, said the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic was potentially catastrophic for millions are the world “who are already hanging by a thread.”

“It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage,” he said in a statement.  The WFP feeds more than 12 million people in Yemen every month, 80% of whom reside in areas controlled by Houthi forces.