Home Sea food Beyond the Black Sea: How Russia’s war in Ukraine is exacerbating food insecurity

Beyond the Black Sea: How Russia’s war in Ukraine is exacerbating food insecurity


When the rich go to war, it is the poor who die,” Jean-Paul Sartre once said. How good that sounds in the current circumstances where Russia’s assault on Ukraine since February 24 has spread misery and hunger throughout the Eastern European nation.

For millions of Ukrainians, the vibrations of deadly ballistics have become a matter of routine. But equally terrible is the fact that the children are sleeping hungry and vulnerable because countless people have lost their homes and their source of income. According to the International Organization for Migration, which is part of the United Nations system, more than 13 million people, including children, have been displaced within Ukraine or crossed the border to neighboring countries.

As of July 4, nearly 5,000 Ukrainians had lost their lives in the conflict, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported. But this is not the end of the scope of this crisis.

More than 70 poor nations around the world, mainly in Africa, also bear the brunt of war. Although these people, living thousands of miles away, are spared the daily terror of war sirens and carnage, starvation has become their worry.

Food supply lines of staple crops such as wheat and maize have been gagged. As a result, poor countries are rushing to alternative suppliers, of which there are unfortunately not many.

While Moscow and Kyiv reached an agreement on July 22 to finally allow exports from Ukrainian ports, the situation remains volatile, especially after Russian missiles hit the Black Sea port of Odessa hours after writing. treaty documents.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that wheat supplies from the Black Sea, comprising mostly Ukrainian and Russian shipments, account for at least a third of total imports from nearly 38, mostly African, countries.

This overreliance on a single source of supply has left many poverty-stricken countries vulnerable to colossal food shortages.

Ukraine’s infrastructure is in shambles as relentless shelling has turned major logistics channels into rubble. On top of that, the Black Sea ports have been reduced to mere death traps. According to local media, the Russian military laid sea mines in Ukraine’s maritime belt, making it nearly impossible for cargo ships to operate in the area.

Big agribusinesses, including Bunge Ltd., fear the damage to logistics infrastructure in Ukraine – one of the world’s major breadbaskets – is deep and will take a long time to restore.

“Even after a resolution [to the war in Ukraine]there will be a long line on this [post-war restoration] because there’s infrastructure that’s been damaged,” Bunge CEO Greg Heckman said on the April 27 first-quarter earnings call.

“There are maritime logistics that need to be unraveled,” Heckman said. “There are waters that need to be cleared.”

But most worryingly, restoration is not an immediate concern for many as they fear the war will escalate in the days to come. An array of threats emanating from the Kremlin only fuels warmongering fear.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that it should accept Moscow’s terms or prepare for the worst.

“Everyone should know that overall we haven’t started anything serious yet,” he told parliament on July 7. “It’s a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems to be heading in that direction.”

War breeds food nationalism, famine

More than 49 million people in 46 countries are at risk of dying from famine or famine-like conditions in 2022, according to the United Nations World Food Program report on June 6.

It’s not like the Russian-Ukrainian war suddenly opened Pandora’s box of global food shortages.

This cataclysm has been brewing for some years as the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply shaken the global economy. And then frequent droughts in key agricultural regions pushed food inflation on a steep curve.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only acted as an ultimate catalyst, pushing low-income groups in third world countries toward starvation.

“The war in Ukraine, in addition to all other global crises, threatens tens of millions of people with food insecurity, malnutrition, mass hunger and starvation,” tweeted United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. May 19.

Since the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the global food supply chain has been rocked by export restrictions.

Fearing a spike in domestic food prices, nearly 20 countries have so far banned exports of grains and oilseed products. Although some countries have gradually withdrawn their trade restrictions, many are still holding their own.

In fact, there is talk of more countries joining the “trade ban” club to curb inflationary pressure on their economies.

This rising tide of food nationalism has actually driven commodity prices even higher, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Unfortunately, this vicious cycle of inflation and trade restrictions is likely to wreak havoc in many poor countries.

“We have a ring of fire that circles the earth now from the Sahel to South Sudan through Yemen, Afghanistan, all around Haiti and Central America,” said David Beasley, executive director of the UNWFP during a session of the Security Council in Munich. Conference in Germany.

“If we don’t address the situation immediately over the next nine months, we will see famine, we will see destabilization of nations and we will see mass migration. If we do nothing, we are going to pay a very high price,” Beasley said.
Source: Platts