Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has warrened of global hunger as the Ukraine war threatens food security in other regions of the world.
In a meeting Wednesday in Vienna with Austria’s chancellor and foreign minister, Guterres lowered the likelihood of Ukraine peace negotiations occurring in the near future. “I do not foresee that occurring in the near future. I can, however, state one thing: “We will never surrender.”
The conflict in Ukraine has caused worldwide prices to skyrocket, for cooking oils, gasoline, and fertilizer. The Russian incursion has hindered shipping in the Black Sea, a crucial conduit for wheat and other commodities, stifling Ukrainian and Russian exports.
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Guterres stated, “I am deeply concerned about the likelihood that hunger may spread around the world as a result of the dire food security scenario we face as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.”
The average price of staple food grains increased by more than 17 percent between February and April 8. This hike will considerably raise the price of food in all nations that import food. Moreover, given the war is expected to continue, a worldwide supply shortage might prompt states to implement export restrictions that further distort food markets.
The worldwide market for grains is highly concentrated. The US, EU Russia, Australia, Ukraine, Canada, and Argentina account for more than 85 percent of world wheat exports. The US, Argentina, Brazil, and Ukraine account for the same proportion of global maize exports while Russia and Ukraine contribute approximately 30 percent of global wheat exports, almost 20 percent of global corn exports, and close to 80 percent of sunflower seed products, including oils.
Russia and Ukraine are the main suppliers of wheat to Many nations in the Middle East and North Africa which purchase a significant portion of their supplies from them.
Ethiopia, Nigeria, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, and Afghanistan are among the most severely impacted nations. These nations might be in danger of catastrophic hunger. Some are facing a devastating drought.
The war has substantially halted grain shipments from Ukraine and is impeding the capacity of Ukrainian farmers to grow the 2022 harvest. It is anticipated that planting there would decrease by about a fifth in 2022.
Sanctions and shipping restrictions in the Black Sea have essentially halted Russian exports, with the exception of land shipments to adjacent friendly nations. This is boosting the global price of grains and oilseeds and the total cost of food.
The bans on Russian oil have also contributed to global energy price increases. In addition, both Russia and its ally Belarus, which is subject to some economic restrictions, are significant manufacturers and exporters of agricultural fertilizer. Food production may be adversely affected by high fertilizer prices.
Prior to the conflict, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations assessed that 161 million people in 42 countries were facing serious food insecurity and need immediate food assistance. Over 500,000 people endured famine levels of food scarcity, by far the most intense levels of hunger since the early 2000s.
Some nations are still battling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic and health effects.
The Ukraine crisis has also brought to light a widening gap between financing and requirements. For instance, the United Nations launched an emergency request for humanitarian aid to Ukraine at the start of March 2022. Countries at risk of starvation whose requests have been out for a longer period of time have gotten far less aid. The worldwide financing for humanitarian needs was 6.5% of the required amount.