Russia-Ukraine war could cause mass hunger and famine due to food insecurity, UN warns
The United Nations on Wednesday (May 18) warned that the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war could cause a global food crisis as the organisation urged Moscow to release Ukrainian grain.
While speaking at a major United Nations summit in New York, UN chief Antonio Guterres stated that years of mass hunger and famine will be followed if a growing global food crisis is not tackled.
The Russia-Ukraine war led to massive global food insecurity, a crisis that has already impacted countries because of the warming temperatures and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a meeting on the growing food crisis chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Guterres said, "Now the war in Ukraine is amplifying and accelerating all these factors: climate change, COVID-19 and inequality."
"It threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years," he added.
During the meeting, Guterres also noted how the number of severely food insecure people has doubled in just two years — from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today.
The UN chief highlighted the data as he said more than half a million people are living in famine conditions, which is an increase of more than 500 per cent since 2016.
After Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and others were cut off from the world by Russian warships, the supply has been disrupted.
Before Russia's invasion of its neighbour in February, Ukraine was seen as the world's breadbasket, exporting 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports.