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Hunger as a Weapon of War

A man distributes bread to Burka-wearing Afghan women outside a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan. (File)

This year is likely to be the most food insecure year on record globally, according to the United Nations.

Hunger as a Weapon of War
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This year is likely to be the most food insecure year on record globally, according to the United Nations. Much of the suffering is caused by conflict, said U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council Lisa Carty.

“More and more, belligerents are intentionally destroying farms or blocking trade routes with the express purpose of causing people to starve.”

Russia is using these tactics as part of its war on Ukraine, and the repercussions are already being felt by the world’s most vulnerable, said Ambassador Carty.

“Ukraine is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat and the second largest exporter of sunflower oil. Russia has disrupted these staple crops by bombing civilian infrastructure, placing landmines in Ukrainian soil, and even deliberately and repeatedly damaging Ukrainian grain storage facilities – six by our latest count. And Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports is stopping what food Ukraine has left could still export from being exported to other countries in dire need.”

It is not surprising that Russia’s war of choice is having a devastating impact on food systems at every level, from global to local. And the consequences will be dire. Regions that are already food-insecure are now more likely to tip into catastrophic famine, starvation and death as food prices rise.

“In Yemen, the number of people facing famine is projected to increase five-fold by June – and that was a projection before Russia’s war of choice began to affect food prices. …

In Ethiopia, as many as nine million people face severe food insecurity. In Tigray specifically, more than 90 percent of people need aid.

In South Sudan, conflict has driven two famines in the last five years and analysts are warning another one could occur in 2022.

And in Syria, about 12 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity.”

Still, “These crises are not inevitable. In fact, we have seen how taking early and anticipatory action has helped prevent famine,” said Ambassador Carty.

“For our part, the United States will continue to deliver lifesaving assistance through USAID and Feed the Future. We will continue to be the single largest country donor to the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization,” she said.

“We can save lives if we act early, before the worst crisis impacts are felt. … There can be no excuse for famine today.”