UN food agency warns of global hunger due to Ukraine war

A picture taken on March 3, 2022 shows at sign of the United Nations during an urgent debate on the Ukraine conflict at the UN Human Right Council in Geneva on March 3, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
The United Nations' World Food Programme warned Friday about a looming food crisis in Ukraine in conflict areas, while disruptions in production and exports could lead to food insecurity globally. اضافة اعلان

"In a year when the world is already facing an unprecedented level of hunger, it’s just tragic to see hunger raising its head in what has long been the breadbasket of Europe,' said the UN agency's director, David Beasley.

"The bullets and bombs in Ukraine could take the global hunger crisis to levels beyond anything we’ve seen before," said Beasley, whom the agency said had visited a staging hub on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

The Rome-based agency is setting up hubs in countries bordering Ukraine to help in deliveries of food assistance into Ukraine, while helping fleeing refugees.

Russia and Ukraine agreed on Thursday to humanitarian corridors, eight days after Russia invaded Ukraine, sending a tide of refugees to Ukraine's western neighbours.

Reports were coming in of "severe shortages" of food and water in Kyiv, the capital, and in eastern Kharkiv, WFP said in a statement.

"With consignments of food assistance arriving every day, WFP is in a race against time to pre-position food in areas where fighting is expected to flare," it said.

With Russia and Ukraine providing some 29 percent of the global wheat trade, serious disruptions in production and exports could send food prices -- already at 10-year highs -- even higher, it said. 

"This will erode food security for millions of people, especially those who are already under stress because of high levels of food inflation in their countries," said WFP. 

It added that higher expected prices could cost the agency between $60 million to $75 million more per month in operational costs.

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