The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered multiple crises on several fronts: the deaths of thousands of civilians, over 6 million refugees fleeing the country, the destruction of heavily populated cities, the rise in military spending in Europe, energy shortages within the EU, a projected decline in development assistance to the world’s poorer nations; the demolition of schools and health-care facilities — and now the threat of hunger and starvation worldwide.
David Beasley, executive director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said last week: “Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full,” while “44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation...“The bullets and bombs in Ukraine could take the global hunger crisis to levels beyond anything we’ve seen before.”
Population-wise, that amounts to the entirety of Argentina.
WFP’s analysis has found that 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger at the start of 2022. That number is expected to rise by 44 million people if the conflict in Ukraine continues, with the steepest rises in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ukraine had about 14 million tons in storage and available for export. But Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea ports has brought shipments to a standstill. More grain is stranded on ships unable to move because of the conflict.
Beasley warned, "... hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies. We’re running out of time and the cost of inaction will be higher than anyone can imagine. I urge all parties involved to allow this food to get out of Ukraine to where it’s desperately needed so we can avert the looming threat of famine”.
Yields of staple crops were already down in many parts of the world because of the impacts of the climate crisis and other conflicts.
Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank, told IPS that Russia’s war against Ukraine and their war crimes will have consequences that will last for decades.
“The war will only exacerbate the many crises the world is now facing—the biodiversity loss crisis, the health crisis, and the climate crisis. And because Ukraine and Russia provided so much food—and cooking oils and fertilizer—to other parts of the world, including the Global South, there will be a massive hunger crisis,” she warned.
Daniel Bradlow, Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations in the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, told IPS the war in Ukraine will have a devastating impact in Africa because many African countries import food and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine.
Therefore, the war will lead to increase in food and fertilizer prices as well as shortages of food and fertilizer. The impact of the war will come on top of extreme weather events– droughts, floods– in various parts of the continent that will also have adverse impacts on food prices and supplies.
“Thus. it is likely that there will be increases in the number of people going hungry across the continent which will have tragic impacts on the development and wellbeing of children”.
Hanna Saarinen, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Food, Agriculture and Land, told IPS global hunger is soaring with the war in Ukraine seeing food prices skyrocket.
“This is catastrophic for people living in countries highly dependent on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine. Countries like Yemen and Syria in the Middle East and Somalia and South Sudan in Africa where we are seeing people pushed beyond the brink of hunger,” she said.
The reason is a broken global food system, one that is unable to withstand crises and one that is built on inequality. Many poorer countries are unable – and are too often made unable – to produce enough food to feed their people. They must rely on food imports. This dependency is dangerous, she added.
“Countries should refrain from using food export bans. They just do more harm. Countries should ensure that food can move quickly from one country to another”.
“We need a food system that works for everybody. One that can stand against shocks such as rapid food inflation and one that is built on local small-scale family farming” she declared.
Russian Invasion Blamed for 44 Million People Marching Towards Hunger & Starvation | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)
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