At least 276 million people now face severe food insecurity, up from 135 million before the epidemic and 49 million people are on the brink of famine in 43 countries, officials said during a two-day event at the United Nations this week.
“We are in an unprecedented crisis. As a result of all these perfect storms for 2022, food pricing is now our number one problem. But in 2023, it will be very difficult to find food, “said David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, at a Security Council meeting on Thursday.
Prior to the war, Ukraine and Russia together supplied 30% of the world’s wheat, and Russia and Belarus were major exporters of fertilizer.
Rising food prices in recent weeks have caused political unrest in many countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran and Peru. According to the United Nations, Africa is at high risk for food insecurity and famine has hit East African countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken led this week’s event. On Wednesday, Blinken chaired a “call to action” meeting, attended by ministers from 30 countries, to discuss current food needs and plans.
On Thursday, Blinken led a Security Council meeting on food security and conflict, focusing on the impact of the war in Ukraine. The United States presides over the council for the month of May.
Blinken accused Russia of using “food as a weapon” to break the consciousness of Ukrainians. Ukraine’s silos contain about 20 million tons of grain, Blinken said, and the Russian invasion has affected food production and blocked its transport by land and sea.
“Food supplies for millions of Ukrainians, and millions more around the world have been literally taken hostage by the Russian military,” Blinken told the Security Council.
Russia has denied any involvement in the current food crisis. The country’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, called the allegations “empty-mouthed lies and fabrications.” Nebenzia called the West a “proxy war” with Russia and “blamed the West for holding the whole developing world hostage and pushing it to the brink of starvation.”
Diplomats and UN officials also discussed ideas for overcoming the food crisis.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie has said that her country will provide logistical support to Ukraine, in order to facilitate the shipment of cargo ships, experts and food inspectors.
Grains He said Canada would also look into increasing its own grain exports, allowing weather and trying to help countries buy grain at reasonable prices.
“We know food insecurity is causing chaos and conflict, and that’s exactly what Putin wants, and we can’t let that happen,” Jolie said.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, told a news briefing that his country was facing food insecurity because it relied heavily on wheat and fertilizers imported from Ukraine. He called for talks and a peace agreement to end the conflict.
Zardari said war could distract agriculture from the effects of climate change, which he called a “threat to our existence.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is negotiating a “package agreement” under which Ukraine will export food through the Black Sea and Russia will be able to sell fertilizers and food products to world markets. He called for the lifting of restrictions on food exports to facilitate distribution and for countries to release food stocks and send surplus countries if necessary.
Guterres said the United Nations was releasing 30 30 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund for food security and nutrition needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso.
“Feeding the hungry is an investment in world peace and security,” Guterres said.