The international community is stepping up efforts to combat the food crisis

A bulldozer on a wheat pile in Gujarat, India, May 18, 2022. The United States wants India to overturn its decision to ban wheat exports. This is a measure that exacerbates the food crisis.
A bulldozer on a wheat pile in Gujarat, India, May 18, 2022. The United States wants India to overturn its decision to ban wheat exports. This is a measure to deepen the food crisis (Sam PANTHAKY / AFP)

With a $ 12 billion envelope from the World Bank and a UN call to lift the block on Ukraine’s grain exports, the international community is stepping up its efforts to tackle the food crisis that has worsened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia must permit the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a ministerial meeting hosted by the United States in New York.

“Alternative transport routes” to the sea exits of these grains, especially the filling of Odessa silos, “can be explored even if they are known to be insufficient to solve the problem,” he adds. I did.

Even before the war in Ukraine, food insecurity was increasing in the world due to conflict, climate and economic crisis.

However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine exacerbated the crisis, with both countries alone accounting for 30% of the world’s wheat trade.

Along with lifting the Ukrainian export block, UN chiefs are calling for “unlimited access” to the global market for Russian food and fertilizers.

These fertilizers have not been affected by Western sanctions against Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but Russia has decided to suspend exports. According to diplomats, their purchases by foreign countries could also be thwarted by measures taken against the Russian financial system.

On Wednesday, the multilateral financial institutions will launch an “action plan” that includes concrete projects to accelerate existing programs, “aiming at work to meet urgent needs.”

Headquarters of the World Bank in Washington. Photo taken on April 13, 2022
Headquarters of the World Bank in Washington. Photo taken on April 13, 2022 (Stefani Reynolds / AFP / Archives)

Thus, the World Bank has announced $ 12 billion in loans over the next 15 months, most of which will be sent to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South Asia.

“Clear statement”

The envelope must support projects that specifically support agriculture in these countries, “social protection to mitigate the effects of rising food prices,” and promote water supply and irrigation projects, the agency said. explained.

It also announced that it had an unused amount of $ 18.7 billion, which would also be used for the project.

“In total, this is more than $ 30 billion available to implement the fight against food insecurity over the next 15 months,” said the World Bank.

“Rising food prices have had a devastating effect on the poorest and most vulnerable people,” said World Bank Governor David Malpass.

“In order to inform and stabilize the market, it is essential for each country to make a clear statement about future production increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

“Useless storage”

Countries not only increase energy and fertilizer supplies and help farmers increase planting and yields, but also “remove policies that block imports and exports (…) or encourage unnecessary storage.” We encourage you to make a “united effort” for this.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (left) and US Secretary-General Antony Blinken (right) at a conference focused on international mobilization for the global food crisis held at the United Nations in New York on May 18, 2022. ).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (left) and US Secretary-General Antony Blinken (right) at a conference focused on international mobilization for the global food crisis held at the United Nations in New York on May 18, 2022. ). (TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

In New York, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who chaired a ministerial meeting dedicated to the food crisis, emphasized US commitment to combat famine and malnutrition.

Washington has announced an “additional $ 215 million” to combat food insecurity, he said.

According to Antonio Guterres, “In just two years, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has doubled from 135 million before the Covid-19 pandemic to 276 million today.”

According to the United Nations, 193 million people in 53 countries were in severe food insecurity last year. In other words, urgent support was needed to survive.

And there is growing concern as India, which has been hit by an exceptional heat wave, is trying to ban wheat exports to ensure food security for 1.4 billion people.

On Monday, United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield emphasized the need to bring together countries “to consider countries that can help fill the gap” in wheat caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

According to her, the United States could be included in these countries. Discussions are already underway with American farmers on this issue.

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