The current food crisis that many countries are facing as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may become a real catastrophe in 2023, warned the United Nations (UN), which called on governments to take urgent measures to avoid it. .
“This year’s food crisis is due to lack of access. Next year’s may be due to lack of food,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres, at the presentation of a report prepared by the UN on the global impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The document, the second on this subject after another published in April, underlines that the world is facing the biggest “cost of living crisis” in a generation, with food prices near historical highs, with fertilizers costing double that until recently and with oil and gas skyrocketing.
“Vulnerable people and countries are already being hit hard, but make no mistake: no country or community will be spared from this cost-of-living crisis,” Guterres insisted.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the UN has repeatedly warned that the conflict would aggravate a hunger problem that was already underway due to the effects of the pandemic and the economic situation in many countries.
So far, the difficulties are linked above all to the fall in cereal and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia, which are key in the global market and on which countries in the Middle East and Africa depend above all.
However, looking ahead to next year, the UN fears that price hikes – especially fertilizers – could mean that there is not enough food.
“If the war continues and the high prices of grain and fertilizers persist until the next planting season, the current crisis could spread to other staple foods, such as rice, affecting billions of people,” he explained at a conference. The secretary general of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (Unctad), Rebeca Grynspan, was reported to the press.
According to Grynspan, “the current food crisis may quickly become a food catastrophe of global proportions in 2023″.
the most exposed
The report presented this Wednesday analyzes the specific situation by region, which is especially bad in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than half of the population is severely exposed to the food crisis and where everything is complicated by the difficulty of the countries to finance support measures for its citizens given the problems of debt and access to credit.
One in two inhabitants of this region lives in countries facing what the United Nations calls the “perfect storm”, a triple crisis of food, energy and finances.
In Latin America, although the largest countries are not at serious risk, a total of 19 nations are exposed to this “three-dimensional crisis”, the largest number outside of Africa.
Other regions, such as North Africa and the Middle East and South Asia, also face significant challenges, while Central and Eastern Europe is highly exposed to energy and financial dimensions due to its relationship with Russia.
Guterres stressed that the only way to resolve the crisis is to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a political solution, but said that until that happens, the UN will focus on two fronts of immediate action.
The first is to seek price stabilization, returning Ukrainian food exports and Russian production of food and fertilizers to global markets, a task in which the United Nations has been engaged for weeks, but of which today it did not want to give details for do not harm the negotiations.
The second priority, according to Guterres, is that financial resources be provided as soon as possible so that the poorest countries can support their population.
“Governments have to be able to borrow the money they need to keep their economies afloat and their people prospering. There is no solution to this global crisis without a solution to the economic crisis of the developing world,” she stressed.