New York, NY, June 14, 2022 — As Ukraine’s Black Sea ports – home to up to 98% of Ukraine’s grain and wheat exports – remain under blockade, those already facing severe food insecurity will suffer the most, IRC warns. With Ukraine producing much of the world’s grain, wheat and fertilizer, global food prices have already skyrocketed by 41%, and 47 million more people are expected to suffer from acute hunger this year. according to a recent IRC report.
This blockade will lead to an even greater rise in world food prices and could push East African countries like Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia – which depend on Russia and Ukraine for 90% of their wheat and are already facing record drought – famine. But the consequences of this war already have far-reaching implications for those living in conflict-affected areas.
- Yemenwhich has suffered a devastating war for 7 years and where 19 million people are food insecure, depends on Russia and Ukraine for nearly half of its grain imports.
- Lebanon — which is already experiencing a severe economic crisis and massive inflation and where half of Syrian refugees are food insecure — imports 80% of its wheat from the region.
- The sahel The West Africa region, comprising Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, is experiencing the highest level of food insecurity since 2014 with 18 million people facing food insecurity and more than 7 million of malnourished children.
- Central America and the Caribbeanwho are already suffering from the economic impacts of Covid-19, increased conflict and natural disasters, are now seeing food prices well above the five-year average.
- Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are on the verge of starvation. East African households are receiving reduced food rations just when they need increased assistance.
The IRC demands that these blockades be lifted immediately. As international attention continues to focus on the Russian-Ukrainian war, funding and attention risk being diverted from these hunger crises. All related humanitarian response plans remain less than one-third funded, requiring an additional $10 billion from the international community – less than 2% of the US military budget.
David Miliband, IRC President and CEO, said:
“Ukraine has long been the breadbasket not only of its regional or European neighbors, but of the world. Blockades of Black Sea ports are holding thousands of tonnes of wheat, grain and fertilizers hostage – with devastating consequences for millions of people already caught in mounting hunger crises around the world. These blockages must be lifted immediately.
“In places like Ethiopia, where 8.6 million people are going hungry as the region is plunged into a catastrophic food crisis, UN humanitarian appeals remain less than a third funded. These millions are doubly punished as vital supplies are taken hostage.
“The war in Ukraine and its impact on other humanitarian contexts cannot be underestimated and is a tragic representation of the failure of the system of the international community to address and prevent humanitarian suffering. World leaders must make every diplomatic effort possible to end these lockdowns, immediately increasing funding to meet existing growing humanitarian needs – especially hunger – and save lives.
The IRC launched an emergency response to the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022 and is working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. We are in Poland, Ukraine and Moldova, providing life-saving services including cash assistance, mental health support, medical supplies and equipment, and specialized social support for children and survivors of violence.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore the health, safety, education, economic well-being and power of people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and more than 20 American cities to help people survive, regain control of their future and strengthen their communities. . Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC at Twitter & Facebook.