The United Nations World Food Programme and agriculture ministers from the G20 nations fear that food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to mass civil unrest and trigger a second wave of refugees heading towards the wealthier countries of the Global North. A meeting was convened by the G20 ministers on Tuesday, April 21, where a commitment was struck to “guard against any unjustified restrictive measures that could lead to excessive food price volatility in international markets and threaten the food security and nutrition of large proportions of the world population.”
Terrorism and Climate Change
People living in conflict regions of Africa are especially at risk, including those in Central African Republic, Chad, northeast Nigeria, and South Sudan. Chadians and Nigerians who live close to Lake Chad and are dependent on fishing and subsistence farming have been especially hard hit by the Boko Haram insurgency. Poverty and lack of access to food is a common contributing factor to Boko Haram recruitment.
Across the Sahel, South Sudan has been struggling with an unprecedented locust plague that threatens to consume crops that could feed millions of people.
The Lockdown Dilemma
Even setting aside terrorism and climate change, there is the very real threat of poverty that makes extended lockdowns a risky move for governments. South Africa, where an estimated 3 million people work in the informal economy, saw large protests, some turning violent, over insufficient food parcels provided by state authorities.