A funding crisis in the United Nations is crippling the World Food Program, cutting off aid to millions of people.

The World Food Program, a part of the UN and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, provides emergency food relief to populations in both acute and chronic need. In 2021, they supported over 128 million people in over 100 countries. One of their founding purposes was to provide food assistance in areas of conflict, to pull the teeth of any country trying to use food as a weapon of war.

According to Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program, donations to the organization have dived as much as 50% since then. Their operating budget would over $20 billion a year to support everyone in need in the countries they support, and they usually are able to raise between $10 billion and $14 billion, but this year they fell far short.

“We’re still aiming at [$10-14 billion], but we have only so far this year gotten to about half of that, around $5 billion,” Skau said.

But the need is even higher than previous years, due to the fallout of both COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. The funding crisis has the same cause.

“The largest food and nutrition crisis in history today persists,” Skau said. “This year, 345 million people continue to be acutely food insecure while hundreds of millions of people are at risk of worsening hunger.”

According to Skau, the WFP has had to cut rations from three-quarters to just half of what recipients need. The funding crisis has also forced them to cut all rations to over eight million people, with another 7 million more next in line.

The WFP is asking its traditional donors to step up and help shore them over, but also seeking to diversity its funding base so this kind of funding crisis won’t happen again.