“These are alarming figures for the MENA region because, for some years, the numbers were almost steady and we had seen a decrease in this absolute number. But COVID-19 stopped that and now it’s on the rise, so these figures are serious.”

Areas where progress has stalled, or gone into reverse, include agricultural systems and small-scale food production, which have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic toll, the report says.

It adds that food price volatility has increased due to the pandemic and associated lockdown measures, while progress remains weak in maintaining plant and animal genetic diversity for food and agriculture.

“In the Arab region, hunger was already on the rise before COVID-19, primarily because of climate change and conflicts,” Mukhtar said.

“The pandemic increased the number of undernourished people. However, if we look at the past two decades, our region has almost doubled in the number of…

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