‘Catastrophe’: UN chief warns of global food shortage
The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” due to increasing shortage of food around the globe.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the COVID pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.
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.”
Antonia noted that harvests across America, Asia, Africa will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to survive with increasing energy and fertilizer 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”.
Antonio said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food via Black Sea and let Russia bring fertilizers and food to the world market without any 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,” Baerbock said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.
“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.