The UN has warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might spark a worldwide food catastrophe that could last years.
Food insecurity in poorer countries has grown as a result of the war, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
If Ukraine’s exports are not recovered to pre-war levels, certain nations may experience long-term famines, he continued.
The fighting has cut off supply from Ukraine’s ports, which used to export massive volumes of cooking oil and commodities like corn and wheat.
As a result, worldwide supply has been curtailed, driving up the cost of alternatives. According to the United Nations, global food costs are about 30% higher than they were this time last year.
Mr Guterres said the violence, along with the consequences of climate change and the pandemic, “threatens to push tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity, malnutrition, mass hunger, and famine” in a speech in New York on Wednesday.
“If we act collectively, there is enough food in our globe now. However, unless we address this issue now, we will face a global food crisis in the coming months “he continued.
He cautioned that the only way to end the problem was to reintegrate Ukraine’s food production, as well as Russian and Belarussian fertilizer, back into the world market.
In an effort to restore food shipments to normal levels, Mr Guterres said he was in “intensive touch” with Russia and Ukraine, as well as the US and the EU.
“Goodwill on all sides is required due to the complicated security, economic, and financial ramifications,” he stated.
His remarks came on the same day that the World Bank announced an additional $12 billion (£9.7 billion) in support for food security programs.
Over the following 15 months, the total funding available for such initiatives will exceed £30 billion.
Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the world’s wheat, and Ukraine was once known as the world’s breadbasket, shipping 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce every month through its ports before the conflict.
However, since Russia’s incursion in February, shipments have plummeted and prices have soared. After India prohibited wheat exports on Saturday, they went much higher.
According to the UN, roughly 20 million tonnes of grain from the previous crop are presently trapped in Ukraine, which, if freed, may relieve pressure on world markets.
Despite the fact that the number of people experiencing food insecurity had been rising even before the invasion, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Moscow on Wednesday of exacerbating an already tough situation.
“Russia has started a grain war, inflaming a worldwide food catastrophe,” Berlin’s top ambassador warned. “It is doing so at a time when millions of people, mainly in the Middle East and Africa, are already facing starvation.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the world was facing the “biggest global food security catastrophe of our time,” aggravated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of choice.”