In his strongest words yet on a growing crisis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a combination of factors was causing an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.
Mr Guterres said the war in Ukraine had added to problems caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality.
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”
He said that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will be hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
Guterres said UN negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.
He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilise global food markets.
The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable”.
Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.
She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami”.
Source Link World facing food shortage ‘catastrophe’, warns UN chief