Food insecurity is becoming more prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). UN agencies assessed that over 55 million of the country's 456.7 million people were malnourished even before COVID-19. Hunger is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of the epidemic, long-term conflict, and other things. MENA's share of the world's acutely food insecure people was 20% in 2020, excessively high when compared to its 6% population share.
The situation is worse where there is conflict, such as in Yemen and Syria. The UN estimates the number of Yemenis afflicted by food insecurity reached 24 million – ~83% of the population – in 2021, with 16.2 million needing emergency food. The war in Syria has had devastating consequences: over 12 million Syrians are food insecure, an increase of 4.5 million in 2020 alone.
Added to this, half of Syrian refugee households in Lebanon were food insecure in 2020, up by 20% from 2019. Refugee populations are especially vulnerable: according to the Food Security Information Network, a quarter of the 0.7 million Syrians registered by the UN in Jordan are in immediate need.