UN food agency urges immediate re-opening of Ukrainian ports


The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday called for the re-opening of the Ukrainian ports in the southern city of Odesa to help local people tackle the global hunger crisis caused by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

“Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation. We have to open up these ports so that food can move in and out of Ukraine. The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in a written statement issued by the WFP.

The organization stressed that the Ukrainian ports in Odesa and the Black Sea are all closed due to the ongoing war in the region, which prevents Ukraine from delivering “tons of grain” to other countries.

“We’re running out of time and the cost of inaction will be higher than anyone can imagine. I urge all parties involved to allow this food to get out of Ukraine to where it’s desperately needed so we can avert the looming threat of famine,” the statement noted.

Mentioning that the Ukrainian farmers do not have any storage for the next harvest in July/August if these ports are not opened again, the WFP said: “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.”

“WFP’s analysis found that 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger at the start of 2022. That number is expected to rise by 47 million people if the conflict in Ukraine continues, with the steepest rises in sub-Saharan Africa,” said the food-assistance branch of the UN.

“Before the war, most of the food produced by Ukraine – enough to feed 400 million people – was exported through the country’s seven Black Sea ports. In the eight months before the conflict began, close to 51 million metric tons of grain transited through the ports,” read the statement.

-Disruption by war increases food prices

“The disruption caused by the war has already pushed prices on food commodity markets well above the record highs reached earlier this year. In the month after the crisis started, export prices for wheat and maize rose by 22% and 20% respectively, on top of steep rises in 2021 and early 2022,” the statement added.

“Food price hikes, coupled with the soaring cost of fuel, are driving up WFP’s operational costs by up to US$ 71 million a month, effectively reducing its ability to respond to hunger crises around the world. This is equivalent to the cost of providing almost 4 million people with a daily ration for one month,” it emphasized.

At least 3,309 civilians have been killed and 3,493 others injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on the country on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is feared to be much higher.

More than 5.7 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the data from the UN refugee agency.

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