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Food & Hunger

For Mosul’s Embattled Residents, a New Conflict: Finding Food

The world is facing unprecedented levels of hunger and starvation, with crises unfolding in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen concurrently right now.

Today, the United Nations added yet another place to that list: Mosul, Iraq.

Read More: 14 Photos of Staggering Famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen

The embattled city at the heart of the struggle between the Islamic State and the Iraqi government (with support from the US military) was on the precipice of starvation even before the latest round of military action, the UN said. Now, more than half of the population is considered at-risk.

The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) conducted one of the largest studies ever done in Iraq during 2016, handing out surveys to more than 20,000 families in urban and rural areas around Mosul, as well as to refugees who have fled their homes but remain inside the country.

From the surveys, the WFP determined that 53% of residents are vulnerable to food insecurity, and 2.5% of the population is already there.

Read More: Child Marriage Soars as Famine Hits Yemen, UN Finds

Lack of access to food affects individuals and society in deep, lasting ways. The study found that 75% of kids under the age of 15 are skipping school to be able to work and help buy food for their families. This could hamper an entire generation’s ability to become educated and informed, create jobs and build an economy, and rebuild a civil society wracked by decades of fighting.

For families that have already had to flee their homes, 66% are living with the daily struggles of food insecurity, the report said.

The report called on the Iraqi government to improve social safety nets and job opportunities in rural areas to help those vulnerable to tipping into extreme hunger.

Read More: US Must Step Up to Help Save 20 Million Facing Famine

The WFP has been providing food aid in Iraq for nearly 50 years, including school lunch programs, infant and maternal nutrition, cash handouts, monthly rations, and by improving food delivery systems, but the cost of doing so is not small.

The organization will need more than $100 million to continue operating in Mosul through the end of summer 2017, and faces dramatic budget cuts if the United Nations loses United States funding under Donald Trump’s proposed US budget. Because of this, it is especially critical the budget is not passed in its current form by the US Congress.  

Global Citizen is asking its supporters to call, email, and Tweet at their representatives to ensure foreign aid is not on the chopping block in next year’s budget, and that the US government and United Nations can intervene in these dire food crisis around the world.