The war in Ukraine will cause famine and instability in other parts of the world

Sacks of flour accumulated in Baghdad


Sacks of flour accumulated in Baghdad – Ameer Al Mohammedaw/dpa

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The UN warns of the global impact given that Russia and Ukraine are key in the supply of cereals

MADRID, March 15. (Royals Blue) –

The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are already being felt worldwide, but if the conflict continues it could have devastating effects in other parts of the planet. Both countries are considered the breadbasket of the world, so the supply of cereals will be affected and with it the number of people who go hungry and the probability of outbreaks of instability will increase.

“This war goes far beyond Ukraine. It is also an attack on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday, warning that “a sword of Damocles hangs over the global economy, especially in the developing world”, where they were already facing the impact of the pandemic before this conflict, with record levels of inflation.

Now, stressed the UN’s top official, “his barn is bombed.” According to Guterres, 45 African and least developed countries import at least a third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, and for 18 of them, including Burkina Faso, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, this figure rises to 50 percent.

“All this is affecting the poorest the most and is planting the seeds of political instability around the world,” Guterres warned, calling for “everything possible to avoid a hurricane of hunger and the collapse of the world food system.”

Since Russia began the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, both the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have been warning of the impact that the war will have on a global level, at a time in which the number of hungry people was already at record levels, among other things due to the effects of the pandemic but also due to the consequences of climate change and the numerous open conflicts.

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AT LEAST 811 MILLION ARE HUNGRY

Thus, in 2021, the UN agencies estimated that there were 811 million people in the world who went to bed hungry every day, a figure that is equivalent to one in ten people, of which 44 million were on the brink. of the famine

In addition, in early 2022, WFP and FAO warned of the risk that levels of food insecurity would worsen in 20 so-called ‘hunger hot spots’, warning in particular of the serious situation in Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, countries all of them scenes of conflict and violence and where unless action is taken, famine could be declared.

According to FAO data, Russia and Ukraine provide 19 percent of the world’s supply of barley, 14 percent of wheat and 4 percent of maize and account for more than a third of world grain exports. They are also the main suppliers of rapeseed and account for 52 percent of the world export market for sunflower oil, in addition to the fact that Russia is the world’s leading producer of fertilizers.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu warned a few days ago that food prices “reached an all-time high in February 2022 due to high demand, input and transport costs, and disruptions in ports”.

PRICE INCREASE

Thus, the world prices of wheat and barley increased by 31 percent in 2021, while those of rapeseed and sunflower oils rose by more than 60 percent. To this must be added the increase in the prices of fertilizers, such as urea, an essential nitrogenous fertilizer, which has experienced a 300 percent rise in recent months.

The continuation of the fighting calls into question the ability of Ukrainian farmers to harvest their crops in June while the closure of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea affects exports. As far as the Russian ports are concerned, they are still open, but the impact that the sanctions may have as the weeks go by remains to be seen.

On the other hand, the director of the FAO has also drawn attention to the impact that the rise in energy prices has on agriculture, since Russia represents 18 percent of world coal exports, 11 percent percent of oil and 10 percent of gas.

“Agriculture requires energy through the use of fuel, gas and electricity, as well as fertilizers, pesticides and lubricants” with which the rise in prices has “negative consequences for the agricultural sector,” Qu said.

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LIKELIHOOD OF SOCIAL OUTBREAKS

But without a doubt, as Guterres indicated, the fear is not only about the increase in the number of people who suffer from hunger in the world, but also about the instability that this factor can bring, since wheat represents a basic food for 35 percent of the population. world population and supply problems could trigger tensions.

The FAO estimates that food prices could rise by between 8 and 22 percent and that the number of hungry people could increase by between 8 and 13 million between 2022 and 2023, especially in the region of Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Protests over rising food prices, including bread, are not something new, especially in countries that are already unstable or where the conditions of the population are already bad. Experts agree that one of the factors that prompted the ‘Arab Spring’ that caused the fall of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and the war that is still open in Syria was precisely the rise in basic foods.

A recent example was what happened in Sudan where at the beginning of 2019 the Sudanese took to the streets due to the rise in bread and fuel. The protests degenerated into mass demonstrations against the government of President Omar Hassan al Bashir, which ultimately led to a coup d’état that led to his removal from power.

Thus, in a context of great tension in many parts of the world due to the economic consequences of the pandemic, the rise in food prices and also in energy prices worldwide as a result of the war in Ukraine, it is to be expected that outbreaks of social instability in some countries, with unpredictable results.

RECORD OF PEOPLE IN NEED OF HELP

The year 2022 began with a record number of people in need of humanitarian assistance: 274 million, 17 percent more than in 2021. The conflict in Ukraine has already increased this figure, with 12 million people in need of aid, and if the UN agency forecasts will continue to rise.

The problem is that the economic impact of the conflict suggests a decrease in the funds available to care for these people while the cost of delivering aid increases. WFP has already indicated that it expects the cost of its global operations to rise by $29 million a month, after an increase of $42 million since 2019. In Yemen, where there is a risk of famine, the agency has already had to cut the rations it distributes.

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