“When war breaks out, people go hungry,” Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday during a debate on conflict and food security chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Some 60% of the world’s undernourished people live in conflict-affected areas, he said. mentionedadding that “no country is immune”.
Conflict Means Hunger
Last year, most of the world’s 140 million acutely hungry people lived in just ten countries: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. eight of which are on the Board’s agenda.
“Let there be no doubt: when this Council is debating conflict, you are debating hunger. When you make decisions about peacekeeping and political missions, you are making decisions about hunger. And when you fail to reach a consensus, hungry people pay a high price“said Mr. Guterres.
Although pleased to announce that the Central Emergency Response Fund is releasing $30 million to meet food security needs in Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, he said sadly: “But it’s is a drop in the ocean”.
Hunger emergency levels
The UN chief expressed concern over food insecurity in the Horn of Africa, which is suffering its longest drought in four decades, affecting more than 18 million people, while conflict and the continuing insecurity afflicts the populations of Ethiopia and Somalia.
Globally, 44 million people in 38 countries are at emergency levels of hunger, known as CPI 4 – one step away from starvation.
More than half a million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen and Madagascar are already at IPC Level 5: catastrophic or famine conditions.
“A Frightening New Dimension”
“The war in Ukraine now adds a chilling new dimension to this picture of world hunger“said the UN chief.
Russia’s invasion led to a dramatic drop in food exports and caused price hikes of up to 30% for staple foods, threatening people in African and Middle Eastern countries.
The leaders of Senegal, Niger and Nigeria confirmed to Mr. Guterres that they were on the verge of devastation.
As UN humanitarian operations prepare to deliver aid, they too are feeling the impact of rising food prices, particularly in East Africa where the cost of food aid has risen by 65% on average over the past year.
Breaking the “deadly dynamic”
The senior UN official outlined four actions countries can take to break “the deadly dynamics of conflict and hunger”, starting with investing in political solutions to end conflicts, prevent new ones and build lasting peace.
“More importantly, we must end the war in Ukrainehe said, calling on the Council to do everything in its power “to silence the guns and promote peace, in Ukraine and everywhere”.
Second, he underscored the importance of protecting humanitarian access and essential civilian goods and supplies, drawing attention to the “essential role of members in demanding respect for international humanitarian law and pursuing accountability”. in case of violation”.
Third, he said that “much greater coordination and leadership” is needed to mitigate the interconnected risks of food, energy and finance insecurity, while recalling that “any meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires the reintegration of agricultural production from Ukraine and food and fertilizer production from Russia and Belarus into world markets – despite the war”.
Finally, it is “more necessary than ever” for donors to fully fund humanitarian appeals with official development assistance.
“Diverting it to other priorities is not an option when the world is on the brink of mass hunger…Feeding the hungry is an investment in global peace and security,” the Secretary-General said.
In a world of plenty, no one should accept “a single starving child, woman or man”, of which “the members of this Council“, he concluded.
“Declaration of war” on food security
The head of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, spoke at length about “the perfect storm” that fuels hunger, namely conflict, climate change and the COVID pandemic.
He said Russia’s failure to open southern Ukrainian ports to exports of grain and other agricultural products would be “a declaration of war on global food security, and this will result in famine and destabilization, and mass migration across the world.”
He cited destabilizing dynamics in Mali, Chad, Malawi and Burkina Faso; riots and demonstrations in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan and Peru; the conflicts in Ethiopia and Afghanistan; drought and famine in Africa, and a “ring of fire around the world” as increasing numbers of people continue to “march towards starvation”.
“Food security is essential for peace and stabilityon a global scale, he pointed out.
WFP chief says 276 million people are struggling to find food and 49 million in 43 countries are ‘knocking at the door of famine’ leading not just to death but ‘unprecedented migration “, which destabilizes societies.
And while the “perfect storm” drove food prices higher in 2022, he said that food availability would be the big concern in 2023.
Mr. Beasley stressed the importance of increasing production, opening Ukraine’s ports and emptying its silos to stabilize markets and deal with the global food crisis.
“Act urgently today,” he told the council.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (CAM) General Manager Qu Dongyu spoke about the importance of people, peace, prosperity and the planet.
“Around the world, prosperity is being reversed,” he said. “There is less food, health and income security” as inequality grows.
He pointed to a “peak of acute hunger around the world”, with 2022 threatening even more deterioration.
While the FAO has strengthened agrifood systems to save lives and protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, “more needs to be done together,” according to its senior official, who called conflict “the biggest driver of hunger.”
protect your neighbor
Meanwhile, war in Ukraine impacts world with ‘historically high’ food and energy pricesaccording to Mr Qu – “endangering the global harvest”.
He recalled that we “are neighbors in this small global village. What happens to one affects us all” and underscored the need to prevent acute food insecurity from accelerating in the months and years to come.
“We need to protect people, the agricultural food system and the economy from future shocks…increase sustainable productivity, [and] build capacity to deliver relevant services,” Qu said.
“Play our part”
Nobody needs to go hungry “if we all play our part”, he added, describing investing in agrifood systems as “more relevant than ever”.
Ending his remarks with a poem in Chinese, the FAO chief said:
“The mountain is high. People depend on food to survive. We must stand united, working cohesively to serve millions of people around the world.”