Hunger as a Weapon of War

Today, crises around the world, with “wars” and “poverty” at the forefront, are leading to an increasingly dire problem: “hunger.” The most significant consequence of these two factors is the issue of “hunger,” which is considered a violation of human rights as it robs individuals of their most fundamental freedom, the right to life. Hunger threatens around 20 million people worldwide, with hundreds of people falling ill or losing their lives every day due to insufficient nourishment. In 2016, the number of people affected by hunger was 816 million, equivalent to 11% of the world’s population. In 2017, the number of people affected by hunger increased by 38 million due to the impact of wars, internal conflicts, and global warming.

Currently, hunger crises are causing loss of lives regardless of gender or age, and they are also being used as a type of warfare tool for various reasons in conflict regions, to intimidate civilians, pave the way for their recruitment into radical groups, or coerce them into obeying authoritarian regimes.

For instance, in Syria, cities and districts held by opposition forces have been besieged by the regime for months, or even years, preventing the entry of food and forcing the population to surrender. Hunger, as a cheaper and lower-cost method of warfare compared to the use of conventional weapons, has led to the fall of many settlements under the control of Syrian opposition. The most tragic example of this can be seen in Eastern Ghouta, where around 400,000 civilians struggle with malnutrition, and 150,000 people have lost their lives. Since 2014, 527 infants have lost their lives due to malnutrition. A similar situation occurred in the city of Taiz in Yemen, which was besieged by the Houthis, resulting in the death of a large majority of civilians, mainly children.

Furthermore, today, 70% of Yemen’s population is in urgent need of aid, and approximately 7 million people are on the brink of dying from hunger. In Nigeria’s northeast, where food shortages were previously non-existent, around 5.1 million people have started to experience food shortages due to internal conflicts. This suggests that hunger and conflicts are mutually reinforcing factors. In other words, while wars and internal conflicts lead to economic and social breakdowns that cause hunger, hunger also reproduces wars and conflicts, exacerbating existing structural crises.

Furthermore, today, 70% of Yemen’s population is in urgent need of aid, and approximately 7 million people are on the brink of dying from hunger. In Nigeria’s northeast, where food shortages were previously non-existent, around 5.1 million people have started to experience food shortages due to internal conflicts. This suggests that hunger and conflicts are mutually reinforcing factors. In other words, while wars and internal conflicts lead to economic and social breakdowns that cause hunger, hunger also reproduces wars and conflicts, exacerbating existing structural crises.

In the current global situation, which is far from promising, it has become imperative to put an end to this vicious cycle in which crises exacerbate the problem of hunger, and hunger, in turn, generates more crises. In this regard, states, which have duties both politically, humanely, and legally, should abandon short-term and conjunctural policies and act together to solve this problem. However, in the current international order, which is driven by pragmatism and profit-seeking, it seems unlikely that governing actors can come together on humanitarian and ethical values. This situation indicates that the current situation, which is already worrisome, will deteriorate further in the long run.

In resolving the issue of hunger that exacerbates structural crises on a global scale, another key actor is civil society organizations. In this context, humanitarian aid organizations need to understand the people living in hunger-stricken areas well and develop and implement aid policies tailored to regional needs. On the other hand, the primary reasons for the problems should be addressed, and efforts should be made to prevent similar issues from arising in the future. The resolution of the issue of hunger, which has recurred for decades in the global system, should not only meet the urgent needs of individuals, but also open the way for these societies to utilize their potentials and become self-sufficient. This can only be achieved by making various economic investments in crisis regions, in addition to the activities of civil society organizations.

In short, the efforts of civil society organizations may be successful in meeting the immediate needs of hunger-stricken regions in the short term, but they will not be sufficient in the long term for the development of self-sufficiency in societies and the prevention of similar problems.

Kaynak

İNSAMER

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