At the root of exodus: food security, conflict and international migration

At a time when a record-high number of people have been forced to flee their homes across the world, a new study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) clearly establishes that high levels of food insecurity lead to higher levels of migration across borders. The report determined that each one percentage increase in food insecurity in a population compels 1.9 percent more people to migrate. Further, 0.4 percent more people flee a country for each additional year of conflict. This means that a country with rising levels of food insecurity and conflict will experience greater outward migration, or movement of people away from their homes. WFP also found that food insecurity is a significant cause for the incidence – and intensity – of armed conflict. Once a migrant’s journey has begun, lack of employment combined with little or no access to food and other humanitarian assistance are significant push factors that compel people to continue to move. Further, as people seek to reduce their food insecurity through migration, the act of migration itself can cause food insecurity, given the costs and often hazardous conditions along the journey.