No end to war in Ukraine, hunger crisis looms – UN
United Nations officials warned on Friday that a protracted war in Ukraine threatened to trigger a hunger crisis in the country and around the world.
Marking 100 days since Russia invaded its neighbour, UN crisis coordinator Amin Awad said at least 15.7 million people in Ukraine were now in dire need of assistance and protection, with this number increasing day by day. When winter arrives, millions of people will be exposed to the destruction of power plants and fuel depots, Awad told an online press conference.
“100 days of war, 100 days of suffering, devastation, destruction on a massive scale… The lives of millions of people have been shattered,” he said. Nearly 14 million people – a third of the population – were forced to flee the fighting, and another 15 to 16 million stayed home but lost their livelihoods, he said.
Humanitarian aid has helped more than 1.5 million people so far and could reach 8.7 million by August and 25 million by the end of the year, he said. The conflict has also fueled soaring prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizers around the world. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.
Awad said more negotiations were needed to unlock trade through the Black Sea. “Failure to open these ports will lead to famine, destabilization and mass migration around the world,” he said, noting that the shortage of wheat and other grains could affect 1.4 billion people. , causing hunger and fueling inflation.
The United Nations is trying to broker a deal to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports. President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is willing to facilitate Ukrainian exports of Black Sea wheat, as well as Russian fertilizer shipments if sanctions are eased. World Food Program official Matthew Hollingworth has called the Black Sea ports “a silver bullet when it comes to averting world famines, world hunger”.
He called on the global community to find ways to get food out of Ukraine by land or sea while the war rages. “Realistically, although we know that this war will unfortunately continue for some time to come, perhaps with no winners or losers,” he said.
The International Organization for Migration said there were around 7 million displaced people in Ukraine as of May 23, down from a peak of around 8 million. Russia calls the invasion a special military operation to disarm its neighbor and drive dangerous fascists from power, which Ukraine and the West call a baseless excuse for an unprovoked attack.
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