TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - "Preliminary data available for this year indicates that the number of undernourished people in the world has (started to) rise again," Director General of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva said during the agency’s biennial conference in Rome on Monday.
"Unfortunately this is not good news," Silva said.
He did not provide an exact figure but added that final data would be available in September.
The head of the UN food agency noted that the number of people lacking enough food to eat had dropped to 795 million between 2014 and 2016, down by 21 percent from 1990 to 1992.
Attributing the high rate of starvation to global crises such as conflicts and violence, Silva said almost 20 million people were facing hunger due to fighting and drought in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
"About 60 percent of the people suffering from hunger in the world live in areas affected by conflict and the impact of climate change," he said, adding that a total of 19 countries also faced protracted crises combined with shocks such as drought or floods caused by global warming.
This comes as achieving zero hunger by 2030 is one of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states in 2015.
Back in January, FAO warned that ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa had sharply deteriorated food security and reduced nutrition levels, leaving approximately 30 million people unsure of their next meal.