Urgent appeals to the UN to fight against food insecurity

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a food security ministerial summit in New York on September 20, 2022, on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (POOL / DAVID DEE DELGADO)

Faced with the emergency, world leaders on Tuesday called for renewed efforts to tackle growing food insecurity around the world, exacerbated by a confluence of crises, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the lack of food. ‘fertilizer.

Gathered on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, as well as Spain and Colombia, co-chaired a meeting, calling for the challenge posed by this food insecurity, itself a factor of instability.

This meeting came in the wake of the G7 in June, during which the major powers had promised to devote nearly 5 billion dollars to fight against food insecurity.

“There is no peace with hunger and there is no fight against hunger without peace,” summed up Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, while his German counterpart, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, called to “act with a sense of urgency”.

US President Joe Biden, who will address the UN on Wednesday, is expected to announce new US aid there, said his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, one of the hosts of the meeting.

– Famine –

In his speech to the UN on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would finance “the evacuation of Ukrainian wheat to Somalia”, a country threatened by famine.

French President Emmanuel Macron at the podium of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, September 20, 2022 in New York (AFP / Ludovic MARIN)

French President Emmanuel Macron at the podium of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, September 20, 2022 in New York (AFP / Ludovic MARIN)

Among the crisis factors are the Covid-19 pandemic which has disrupted distribution channels, climate change and the war in Ukraine, with officials on Tuesday accusing Russia of putting food security at risk.

“The truth is that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is blackmailing the international community by using the food weapon,” Sanchez said.

The United States has made food security a diplomatic priority not without political ulterior motives, by targeting the responsibility of Russia. On the other hand, many countries in the South are also insisting on this theme in the broader context of the climate crisis and energy prices.

The leaders stressed the “vital” nature of the so-called “Black Sea” agreement, which allows the Ukrainian cereals on which many countries in the Middle East and North Africa depend.

Destination by country and region of the world of grain exports from Ukraine since the establishment of the Joint Coordination Center in July (AFP/)

Destination by country and region of the world of grain exports from Ukraine since the establishment of the Joint Coordination Center in July (AFP/)

This agreement, signed by Russia and Ukraine and validated by the United Nations and Turkey in July, allowed the resumption of the export of Ukrainian cereals through a secure corridor.

“Contrary to the disinformation coming from Moscow, these cereals and other food products go where it is needed, that is to the most vulnerable countries, generally in the South”, assured Mr. Blinken. The agreement also made it possible to “lower prices” and “must be renewed, and urgently”, he said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed to worsening food shortages faced by some of the world’s poorest countries.

According to a US report by the Conflict Observatory, around 15% of Ukraine’s grain storage capacity has been lost since the war began in February, with adverse effects for global food security.

These significant losses call into question Ukraine’s ability to maintain its role as breadbasket for many countries, which depend on it for their supplies of wheat, corn and sunflower.

– Need fertilizer –

“It is clear that the current disruption of food supply chains and the war in Ukraine will impact the next harvests. There are about one to two harvests a year and we are already seeing it,” Alvaro Lario previously warned. who chairs the International Fund for the Development of Agriculture (IFAD), emphasizing the issue of fertilizers, of which Russia is a major producer.

Chart showing the number of people who went hungry in 2021 by world region, according to the FAO (AFP/)

Chart showing the number of people who went hungry in 2021 by world region, according to the FAO (AFP/)

“It’s going to be devastating next year… maybe worse than during Covid,” he told AFP on Monday.

In a report released in July, the FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) assured that “between 702 and 828 million people (had) been affected by hunger in 2021”, i.e. 9.8% of the world’s population.

Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned: “If we don’t stabilize the fertilizer market in 2022, there simply won’t be enough food in 2023.”

Urgent appeals to the UN to fight against food insecurity