The Secretary-General of the United Nations has warned that hunger levels around the world are “at a new high”.
Antonio Guterres spoke at a meeting of world leaders called to discuss the escalating crisis for food security.
He said the number of people with serious food insecurity had doubled in just two years from 135 million before the coronavirus pandemic to 276 million today.
The number of people living in famine has increased by more than 500% since 2016 and now stands at more than 500,000.
“The complex security, economic and financial consequences require goodwill on all sides to reach a package deal,” Mr Guterres said.
“I will not go into details, because public statements can undermine the chances of success.
“There’s still a long way to go,” he said.
Export on hold
The situation has worsened in recent months due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia produce almost a third of the world’s wheat and barley, and half of its sunflower oil.
Prior to the war, Ukraine was one of the largest contributors to the UN World Food Program, providing enough grain to feed 400 million people.
Russia and its ally Belarus are the second and third largest producers of potash in the world – essential for manure.
But the war put all this in jeopardy.
Exports from Russia will be disrupted as international companies leave and the logistics of shipping food become more difficult. Against severe sanctions from Western countries, Russia may also need its food for its own people.
For Ukraine, Russian mines and naval ships have blocked the ports of the Black Sea, halting exports.
Other important developments:
Even before the war, food was bad for many countries
Developing countries are worst affected – many have already seen record food prices before the war because of problems such as droughts and internal conflicts.
Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, Yemen and Lebanon are among those most vulnerable to, for example, a shortage of grain in Ukraine.
And even for those countries that do not rely on importing wheat from Russia or Ukraine, the deficits will push prices up further.
Mr Guterres said: “There is no effective solution to the food crisis without Ukraine’s food production, such as food and fertilizers produced by Russia and Belarus, on the world markets, despite the war.”
He said he was in “intensive contacts” with Russia and other key countries in hopes of an agreement to allow grain exports to Ukrainian ports and allow Russian food and manure unrestricted access to world markets.
‘If you have a heart at all, open these ports’
David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Program, was also present at the meeting, saying: “Failure to open the ports will be a declaration of war on global food security, resulting in famine and destabilization of peoples, such as mass migration by necessity.
“This is not just about Ukraine – this is about the poorest of the poor around the world who are on the brink of starvation as we speak.
“That I ask (Russian) President Putin, if you have any heart at all, please open these ports … so that we can feed the poorest of the poor and prevent famine, as we did in the past when we the people in this room have gone up together. “
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Call for countries with grain and fertilizer reserves to come forward urgently
The meeting was chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said the world was facing the “biggest global food security crisis of our time”.
“Governments and international organizations can also come together to force the Russian Federation to create corridors so that food and other vital supplies can leave Ukraine safely over land or sea.
“There are currently an estimated 22 million tonnes of grain in silos in Ukraine, food that can go directly to helping people in need if it can just get out of the country.”
He called on countries to give more to humanitarian organizations and to those with large grain and fertilizer reserves to move forward quickly.
World hunger levels ‘on a new high’, says UN chief, as 22 million tonnes of grain are trapped in Ukraine | World news
Source link World hunger levels ‘on a new high’, says UN chief, as 22 million tonnes of grain are trapped in Ukraine | World news