With Russia suspending its participation in the UN-brokered grain deal, the world is a worried lot with fears that it would lead to extreme hunger in some parts and a hefty price rise.
Warning of the catastrophic consequences of Russia, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that it was prompting grave concerns about the growing global hunger crisis.
With the Ukraine war altering the global patterns of food production and supply, the inflation in low-income countries has surged to almost 90 per cent with 345 million people estimated to experience acute food insecurity this year. “Critically, as tens of millions of people continue to experience extreme hunger in East Africa and Somalia teeters on the brink of famine as a result of the worst drought in 40 years, the renewed blockade will continue to impede the import of 80% of grain imported from the Russia-Ukraine region, thereby driving further hunger,” the organisation said.
IRC’s East Africa Emergency Director Shashwat Saraf said: “The renewed blockade is prompting grave concerns about the growing global hunger crisis, especially in East Africa where over 20 million people are experiencing hunger or in places like Yemen which relies on Russia and Ukraine for almost half its wheat import and where over 19 million people need food assistance. The UN-brokered deal brought a ray of hope – now this hope is shattered again – the recent suspension of grain exports will hit those on the brink of starvation the most. Like Yemen, the East Africa region relies on Russia and Ukraine for much of its wheat imports and as Somalia teeters on the brink of a catastrophic famine, a further disruption of critical grain exports could push Somalia over the edge by impacting affordability and availability of grain within the region.”
According to official reports, since lifting of the blockade on August 1, about 8.5 million tonnes of critical foodstuffs has been shipped from ports to countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, unlocking almost half of wheat previously held at the Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, the IRC said. “Amidst the recent escalation of violence in Ukraine, the IRC calls on the international community to ensure regular and predictable food shipments urgently reach those who need it most, including those on the brink of starvation in regions such as East Africa and Yemen,” they said.
The IRC launched an emergency response to the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022 and has been working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. They are in Ukraine, Poland and Moldova, scaling up winter response, delivering emergency kits and medical items, and providing vital services such as cash assistance, mental health support, and safe spaces for women and children. In East Africa, the IRC is implementing a drought response plan, supporting over 1 million people with essential nutrition, health, water and sanitation and cash assistance services.
ABOUT THE IRC
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and in 28 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on November 17, 2022 welcomed the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had been due to expire on November 19, 2022.
Speaking from Cairo, where Mr. Guterres was en route from the G20 summit in Bali to the COP 27 climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, he said in a video tweet that he was “deeply moved” and grateful that an agreement had been reached in Istanbul.
The UN chief also expressed his deep commitment to remove the “remaining obstacles to the unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizers”, as these remain “essential” to avoid a food crisis next year.
More than 11.1 million tonnes of essential foodstuffs have been shipped as part of the agreement involving Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia and the United Nations, since it was signed on 22 July.