By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) — The United States, which is holding the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month, has summoned an “emergency session” of the Council on May 19 to focus largely on world food security in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told reporters May 15 the United States and Western allies are coming together to address “some of the broader consequences that are flowing from Russia’s aggression, primarily the global food shortages and rising food prices”.
“Ukraine supplies a great deal of the world’s corn, its wheat, its oil seeds for cooking oil.
Russia is blocking Ukraine’s ports; it is destroying its farmland, warehouses, roads, equipment,” he pointed out.
“That’s not only striking a major blow to Ukraine’s economy, but it’s also designed to inflict pain on the rest of the world to weaken support to the Ukrainian people’,” he added.
The US is expecting several foreign ministers to address the meeting “on the steps that we can take together to address the immediate challenges for food and food insecurity, as well as to look at some of the medium-term and longer-term answers to food insecurity”.
According to an analysis by the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), an estimated 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger at the start of 2022.
That number is expected to rise by 44 million people if the conflict in Ukraine continues, with the steepest rises in sub-Saharan Africa.
WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley said last week “Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full,” while “44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation”.
Population-wise, that amounts to the entirety of Argentina.
Beasley warned that unless the ports are reopened, Ukrainian farmers will have nowhere to store the next harvest in July/August. The result will be mountains of grain going to waste while WFP and the world struggle to deal with an already catastrophic global hunger crisis.
Meanwhile, Blinken told reporters that the 30 allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) remain fully engaged, aligned, committed to supporting a democratic, independent, and sovereign Ukraine.
The world has seen the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people these past three months. It’s seen the unity at the heart of NATO. “President Putin launched this brutal and unprovoked war thinking he could eliminate Ukraine as an independent country and divide NATO.”
Instead, he’s only reinforced Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence as Ukraine has chased the Russian army away from Kyiv. “NATO is stronger, more capable, more unified than ever,” he noted.
“Every member of the Alliance wants to bring this war to an end as soon as possible, but we’re equally determined to maintain our security assistance to Ukraine, to continue our sanctions, export controls, and diplomatic pressure on Russia for as long as it’s necessary.”
“The United States and our allies and partners are focused on giving Ukraine as strong a hand as possible on the battlefield, and at any negotiating table, so that it can repel Russian aggression and fully defend its independence and sovereignty,” he declared.
He also said he was hoping the US Congress will move quickly to pass the $40 billion supplemental funding bill “to ensure that our ability to provide assistance to Ukraine is not interrupted”. [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 May 2022]
Image source: Tylaz
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