The World Food Programme is appealing for urgent international aid to support the rising number of people going hungry worldwide due to "the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."
The UN body said on Monday that 270 million people could be pushed into food insecurity by the end of the year -- nearly double the pre-pandemic level.
The WFP says Africa has seen a rise in unemployment and a sharp drop in remittances from migrant workers. It says more than 57 million people in West and Central Africa could face food shortages.
In Latin America, which was hit by a massive drought last year, the number of people requiring food aid could nearly triple to 16 million.
The WFP is planning to offer assistance to a record 138 million people worldwide. It says it needs 4.9 billion dollars over the next six months for its life-saving work.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley says the unprecedented crisis requires an unprecedented response. He says, "If we do not respond rapidly and effectively to this viral threat, the outcome will be measured in an unconscionable loss of life."