Experts Warn Ukraine Crisis and COVID Are 'Perfect Storm' That Could Starve Millions
193 million people face acute food insecurity
Experts have warned that COVID and the ongoing war in Ukraine have helped create a “perfect storm” of a global food crisis.
Millions of people across the world are on the brink of starvation thanks to a “perfect storm” of a global food crisis.
According to a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises, a multinational organization founded by the European Union as well as various United Nations bodies, 2021 was the worst year for world hunger, but things could get much worse.
The organization’s annual Global Report on Food Crises says that 193 million people face acute food insecurity in 2021, which they define as being in a state where a person’s food intake is so low as to put their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.
By far the single largest cause of this food insecurity last year was conflict, while the issue of economic shocks and climate change came in as very distant second and third place causes respectively.
But despite how bad things got last year, experts who participated in the creation and publication of the report now fear that things could get a whole lot worse in 2022 as a result of a wide number of ongoing crises.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” said David Beasley, a former Republican Party governor who now serves as the executive director of the World Food Programme.
“Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm — and now we’ve got the war in Ukraine piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe,” he continued.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation.”
“We urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late,” he went on to say.
This is far from the first time that Beasley has warned of the potentially cataclysmic impacts the forthcoming global food shortage could potentially have, having previously said that Europe, in particular, could soon be facing “Hell on Earth” if efforts aren’t made to feed the most vulnerable.
“Failure to provide this year a few extra billion dollars [for feeding the vulnerable] means you’re going to have famine, destabilization, and mass migration,” the former Governor of South Carolina said.
“If you think we’ve got Hell on earth now, you just get ready,” he continued.
“If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe.”
Despite this warning, it looks like actually turning the crisis around will be far more easily said than done, with Ukraine — one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat — now finding itself almost completely cut off from external markets thanks to Russia’s invasion.
Around 20 million tons of grain are thought to be stuck in the eastern European nation as of the time of writing, with the United Nation’s World Food Programme’s Martin Frick expressing frustration at the dire state of affairs.
“None of the grain can be used right now,” he said.
“It is just sitting there… The world urgently needs these items of food from Ukraine.”
“We demand… the grain trade routes remain open despite the Ukraine war,” he continued, emphasizing the importance of getting the resources out of the country and to the rest of the world.
However, some have accused Russia of deliberately trying to impede the export of wheat from the country, with Ireland’s Prime Minister saying that the Russian military is actively targeting grain stockpiles in the country for destruction.
“The largest grain silos in Ukraine have all been leveled so there is a very clear strategic objective there to create a food crisis on top of the energy crisis that has been created as well as waging an immoral and unjust war on Ukraine itself,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal, who stopped off in Ireland on his way to Washington DC.