Health Kenny Stancil Ukraine

UN Food Chief Says ‘Hell on Earth’ Looms From Hunger Crisis Triggered by Ukraine War

With the world "marching towards starvation," said David Beasley, "the best thing we can do right now is end that damn war in Russia and Ukraine and get the port open" in Odesa.
Abdullahi Mohamed accompanies his son Adan, who is being treated for severe malnutrition, at the Baardheere district hospital in drought-stricken Jubaland, Somalia on March 13, 2022. (Photo: World Food Program)

By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams

As food prices and hunger surge worldwide, hundreds of millions of people around the globe are “marching towards starvation”—increasing the likelihood of preventable deaths, civil unrest, and political violence in the months ahead—the United Nations food chief warned Thursday.

Speaking from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, World Food Program (WFP) Director David Beasley said that “frightening” shortages of key food staples put tens of millions of lives in jeopardy and risk destabilizing countries that are heavily reliant on imports.

“Even before the Ukraine crisis, we were facing an unprecedented global food crisis because of Covid and fuel price increases,” said Beasley. “Then, we thought it couldn’t get any worse, but this war has been devastating.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and imposed a blockade on its Black Sea ports, agricultural exports from Ukraine—responsible for 9% of the world’s wheat, 16% of its maize, and 42% of its sunflower oil—have declined substantially, leaving millions of tons of stored grain on the cusp of rotting.

The war also disrupted this year’s planting season, raising fears that this summer’s harvest, assuming sufficient labor power and storage space can be found, will be a third lower than in 2021.

Consequently, food prices have soared to record highs—surpassing levels last seen during the global crisis of 2007-08, when a spike in the cost of bread helped contribute to the Arab Spring uprisings—and put tens of millions of people at increased risk of extreme hunger.

Citing the increased costs of shipping, fertilizer, and fuel associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and the Ukraine war, Beasley said that the number of people suffering from “chronic hunger” has grown from 650 million to 810 million over the past five years.

Meanwhile, the number of people suffering from “shock hunger,” which Beasley defined as not knowing “where your next meal is coming from,” has ballooned from 80 million to 325 million over the same time period.

Russia’s war on Ukraine isn’t the only factor driving global hunger, which hit an all-time high in 2021 and has only grown worse since then.

report published earlier this month by WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization made clear that armed conflicts, increasingly extreme weather stemming from the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency, and the lingering economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis—prolonged by inequitable access to vaccines, tests, and treatments—are also exacerbating food insecurity.

Responding to the report, which warned that an all-time high of 49 million people in 46 low-income countries are now at risk of famine, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said earlier this week that “this should be the biggest story in the world right now.”

As the global hunger crisis grows more severe, the U.N.’s capacity for addressing the unfolding humanitarian disaster is being diminished simultaneously.

WFP sources 70% of the wheat for its emergency relief programs from Russia and Ukraine. As a result of the war, the WFP’s operating costs have skyrocketed by $70 million per month, forcing it to slash rations by as much as half in several nations.

According to the U.N.’s recent report, of the nearly 50 million people at risk of famine globally, 750,000 are already in “catastrophe”—the most dire phase of the food insecurity scale.

People in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—war-torn and drought-stricken countries that import large quantities of wheat from Russia and Ukraine—are among those experiencing the worst acute hunger. Another hotspot mentioned in the report is Afghanistan, whose central bank reserves have been seized by the Biden administration.

Referring to the crash that started in 2007 and culminated in bread riots in dozens of countries, Beasley said that “the economic factors we have today are much worse than those we saw 15 years ago.” Failing to confront the current crisis, he warned, would lead to “famine, destabilization of nations, and mass migration.”

“We are already seeing riots in Sri Lanka and protests in Tunisia, Pakistan, and Peru, and we’ve had destabilization take place in places like Burkina Faso, Mali, [and] Chad,” said Beasley. “This is only a sign of things to come.”

“It is a very, very frightening time,” Beasley continued. “We are facing hell on Earth if we do not respond immediately. The best thing we can do right now is end that damn war in Russia and Ukraine and get the port open” in Odesa.

Kenny Stancil

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

17 comments

  1. Since no one else seems to be speaking about this subject, please, let me bring it up. As the polar ice caps melt, along with the permafrost, the Siberian land mass will become a vital source of agricultural production. Therefore, whoever controls Russia, controls the earth’s food supply. Also, as the polar caps melt, access to fossil fuels escalates, and again, who controls this region, also controls energy production. Russia’s in the way and must be destroyed.

    For data on this subject, please read Michael T. Klare’s ‘All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change’

  2. I couldn”t even finish this article. This to me is slanted reporting. First of all, it is the SANCTIONS imposed by the idiotic governments of USA /UK?EU that are causing the food crisis. Secondly, part of the reason that the ports are a problem is because the Ukrainians mined them and cannot remember where the mines are. Thirdly, it is not Russia’s ‘WAR ON UKRAINE’~~it is the agressor entities USA/NATO that are making “WAR ON RUSSIA.” Using of course, the Ukrainian people as targets and soldiers to get slaughtered.
    If the USA did not always have to be the biggest bully on the block and want to control the world’s resources, this conflict never needed to happen. So it is the fault of the West, and not of Russia or Putin, whom everyone in the West seems to be propagandized to hate. Maybe it’s because the Putin and Lavrov are a thousand times smarter than anyone that the USA or EU or UK can dig up~~could there be childish jealousy afoot?!

    1. YES, EMPIRES always use Divide and Conquer to focus like a laser in killing-off multi-issue time and effort wasting — which is what this damned “Quiet American” EMPIRE does to dissipate and kill-off any Strategic Focus on EMPIRE!

      WakeTF-up — don’t spread your efforts like manure over all the hundreds of lesser and unproductive ‘issues’ — Strategic focus is essential, and allowing Empire to usurp your efforts is death by stupidity.

  3. This is (multi-millionaire, former comedian) President Zelensky’s war. Not Putin’s. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been an independent country for some years. This wouldn’t be the case if Russia didn’t agree to it. The issue is a long-running conflict between Ukrainians — Zelensky’s faction who want to align with NATO/the west vs. Ukrainians who want to maintain their alliance with Russia. (Note: There are many Russian Ukrainians, which can be compared to Mexican Americans.) What Americans call “Russia’s invasion” has actually been a ” corridor” for Russia shipping in aid and a means of enabling refugees to flee. These “corridors,” then Ukraine’s eastern sector, are under attack by Zelensky’s forces. When those forces began targeting Russian communities across the border, Russia responded predictably. The US government is largely financing Zelensky’s war.

  4. Don’t you think street demonstrations should be providing DATE, TIME, and PLACE INFO??

  5. What TF happened to resistandprotest? Did the effin “Quiet American” EMPIRE kill this demonstrating data base??

  6. It requires Organization to Get Help for fighting this damned EMPIRE, eh?

  7. Is anyone smart to focus on Strategy in having any chance of beating the effin EMPIRE

  8. Our news media reports that Joe is thinking, considering about easing tariffs on China goods to reduce costs on suffering American consumers. JOE’S poll ratings are extremely low, and inflation is extremely high. GOP seems to be on trend for a landslide, so Joe must do something, anything to save as much as he can.
    Now, if only Africa, Middle East, can vote in Europe, or USA, then ‘ something’ can be done. Otherwise, don’t expect much, we have lots of our own problems.
    Most of us do not care who started the war, only that we are always right and must demand our way or no way.

  9. “Hell on Earth”, brought to you by the corrupt & bankrupt West in their proxy war in the Ukraine and their insane response to the tinpot virus Covid 19. Not to mention they printed more $$ in the last 2 years than what they’ve done in the last century.
    Wakey, wakey.

  10. This is sheer propaganda rubbish.
    It is amazing how they never give up.
    Clear evidence doesn’t faze them one bit, they still go on.

    Look: Russia didn’t/hasn’t blockaded any ports. Quite the contrary, Putin has cleared mines and publicly declared he offers safe access for food ships.

    Plus as many have pointed out large though the numbers are for tonnage of grain from Ukraine it is in fact a miniscule amount when it comes to feeding the world.

    Plus there’s other ways of getting exports out of Ukraine did you want to. If a Berlin airlift could save Berlin I’m sure the billions of dollars america is ‘sending to Ukraine’ (read: putting in the pockets of paid cronies and henchmen) could finance all kinds of methods of getting food out of Ukraine.

    Plus the clear fact is that America’s sanctions that are disrupting trade world wide and causing immense distress: America’s (and ass licking cronies like UK and Aus etc. )

    Plus the clear fact that most of the damage was already done by, again, America’s actions during the Covid hysteria which disrupted global trade immensely and, for instance, Sunetra Gupta’s ‘collateralglobal.org’ site predicted would cause perhaps ‘millions’ of deaths!!

    so it seems clear this is simply an attempt to cover that past covid crime and this current crime by blaming it all on Putin who was actually goaded beyond endurance and had to act when he did or view the invasion of the donbas by radical Ukrainians.

    propaganda. fool me once…. had more than two years experience of you guys now….

  11. Yes, even Sheerpost and Common Dreams fall into disinformation. Almost impossible to keep up with it.

    Russia is not blockading anything. It did everything it could to keep grain moving. The Ukrainians mined the harbors. Some of the crop is going out through Romania.

  12. It’s not a Russian blockade that’s preventing shipments, it’s Ukraine’s mining of its own port and refusal to remove the mines. I’m rather disappointed in Scheerpost for printing an outright lie like that, I expect better from this site.

  13. the fascist amerikan invasion of Ukraine—terminated by Russia…fixed
    CD always delivers fascist pro nazi lies. there is no Russian blockade—ukies mined the Odessa harbor and have rejected Turk /Russian proposals to remove these mines. Moron sanctions by US and minions produced/exacerbated hyperinflation….the stupidity of amerikan policies—ethanol, the worship of money and “free enterprise” has produced a society where people hoard toilet paper but safe baby formula cannot be produced…increased diesel/gas will increase transport costs—food will double—Russian denazification is not to blame; asmerikan finance of ukie nazis is the principle reason for the existing and worsening crisis

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