The European Union and France, as president of the European Council, have launched an initiative for urgent mobilization to face the consequences that the war in Ukraine will have on the world food market.
The European plan is based on strengthening agricultural production, stabilizing the food market and international solidarity, and should be finalised by the end of June to prevent a new global hunger crisis.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the deepest humanitarian crisis on the European continent since World War II, and its negative impact transcends Europe’s borders. It is visible in the spike in energy and food prices and will have a dramatic impact on Africa and the Middle East”, said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčić.
The UN World Food Program, the WFP, is warning that the world is facing a combination of three major crises: the war in Ukraine, climate shocks and the economic consequences of the Covid pandemic. These are leading to increased prices, food shortages and possibly a new global crisis due to hunger and large migrations from North Africa and the Middle East.
They say that even before the war in Ukraine, they had a gap between the means at their disposal and the need for food for the poorest around the world, and that increases in the price of energy and food have now caused this gap to jump to almost nine billion dollars.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley says that this year Ukrainian farmers, who usually produce enough food for 400 million people around the planet, are on the battlefields, that the country will remain uncultivated, and that last year’s stocks of up to 30 million tonnes of grain have been blocked in the Black Sea.
“It is extremely important that France and the EU take the lead, to neutralize the shortage of cereals that will not be produced in Ukraine”, said Beasley. “The last thing we need is millions upon millions of migrants on top of the four to five million people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Because of hunger, they are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East. We should not be taking food from hungry children in Africa to give it to hungry children in Ukraine, or from Ukrainian children to give it to children in Afghanistan.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian notes that the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ‘breadbasket of the world’, has led to a risk for the food supply, and that European sanctions that were subsequently introduced have not been a contributing factor.
He emphasizes the need in the next few months to find solutions among states, international organizations and donors to provide sufficient food at affordable prices, without disrupting grain markets, to prevent possible consequences such as hunger, destabilization and migration.