May 19, 2022 07:56 UTC
  • UN warns of rising global food insecurity due to Ukraine conflict

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned of a “global food shortage” in the coming months due to the conflict in Ukraine.

During a meeting on global hunger at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, Guterres said the conflict “threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity followed by malnutrition, mass hunger, and famine.”

According to Press TV, he said he was in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the US, and the European Union to try and secure the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments and Russian fertilizer exports. Russia and Belarus are the world’s number two and three producers of potash, a key ingredient of fertilizer.

Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley supplies and half of its sunflower oil. Before the war, Ukraine was seen as the world’s bread basket, exporting 4.5 million tons of agricultural produce through its ports per month.

“In the past year, global food prices have raised by nearly one-third, fertilizer by more than half, and oil prices by almost two-thirds,” Guterres said.

The United Nations has said that more than 36 countries count on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.

The UN chief said the number of severely food insecure people had doubled in just two years, from 135 million before the pandemic to 276 million today, with more than half a million people experiencing famine conditions – an increase of more than 500 percent since 2016.

“These frightening figures are inextricably linked with conflict, as both cause and effect,” Guterres said, adding that, “If we do not feed people, we feed conflict.”

His comments came on the same day the World Bank announced $30 billion in financing for existing and new projects that includes extra funding worth $12 billion for new projects addressing food insecurity.

The bank said in a statement on Wednesday that the new projects were expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices on the poor, and water and irrigation projects over the next 15 months.