There is Hunger in the World Today

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Fernando de la Iglesia Viguiristi SJ

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In the summer of 2015, three-year-old Alan Kurdi was found dead on a Turkish beach. His Syrian family had fled their war-torn homeland. The image of that drowned child in the arms of a soldier disturbed us all.

In the fall of 2018, seven-year-old Amal Hussain died of a deadly disease: hunger. Her photograph appeared in The New York Times: undernourished, she lay waiting for death, without even the strength to cry. Amal was in a health center where the nurses gave her milk every two hours. It was useless. She could not keep it down and also had severe diarrhea. In her war-torn country, Yemen, a hostile coalition had set up a blockade making it extremely difficult to obtain emergency food and aid.

These two depressing photos of two dead children in two warring nations can leave no one indifferent. Alan had no guaranteed meals in his native Syria; Amal was reduced to skin and bones. In fact, in five years of war in Yemen, according to estimates from Save the Children, the scourge of hunger has caused the death of 85,000 children.[1]

The situation in this country is reminiscent of similar tragedies in Biafra and Ethiopia. This is a genuine humanitarian emergency. The Yemeni nation is the latest in a long series of famines that have struck humanity, the Encyclopaedia Britannica online provides a detailed, historical explanation.[2]

The famines of ancient Egypt are well known, the one that occurred in Rome in 5 BCE, those that decimated Europe in the Middle Ages, one during the pre-revolutionary era in France in the 18th century, the one that devastated Ireland and Scotland in the 19th century. China and India have suffered this calamity several times in the last two centuries. The Soviet Union faced four famines in the 20th century. Recently, North Korea found itself unable to feed its population.

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