UN chief warns of ‘hurricane of hunger’ amid Ukraine crisis 0

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of the “hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system” in the wake of a simmering crisis in Ukraine.

Addressing correspondents outside the UN Security Council in New York on Monday, the top UN official said 45 African and least-developed countries import at least a third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, while 18 of them import at least 50 percent, pointing to the growing food insecurity.

“We must do everything possible to avert a hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system,” he said, making a passionate appeal. “In addition, we are seeing clear evidence of this war draining resources and attention from other trouble-spots in desperate need.”

Russia and Ukraine, the two warring neighbors, represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 percent of the world’s wheat, Guterres said, noting that Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) wheat supply.

“Food, fuel, and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are being disrupted. And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods – when available – are at record levels,” he asserted.

“All of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe.”

Guterres called on the international community to find “creative ways” to address the increased humanitarian and development recovery needs worldwide and to release pledged funds.

Late last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced what he called a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization” of the restive Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

Putin said the military mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”

Kiev has shown willingness to negotiate but has refused to surrender or accept any ultimatums from Moscow, even as fierce fighting rages on.

Negotiators from the two warring sides have held several rounds of talks in recent weeks but so far a breakthrough has been eluding.