The UN says the problems of climate change, a pandemic, and a war in Ukraine threaten to push tens of millions of people to the brink of food insecurity, followed by malnutrition and mass starvation, the organization said. The UN has already voiced concerns about the effects of the crisis on humanitarian aid and says that the high price of wheat is leading to higher mortality rates and malnutrition.
Global food crisis
The UN warns that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could create a global food crisis that will last for years. The UN believes that some countries may even face prolonged famine if Ukraine's exports do not recover to pre-war levels. The Russian invasion forced Ukraine to halt shipments from its ports, which exported huge amounts of vegetable oil in peacetime, as well as grains such as corn and wheat. This reduced the global supply and caused the prices of alternative products to skyrocket. According to the UN, world food prices are now almost 30% higher than at the same time last year.
Consequences of the war
Russia and Ukraine account for 30% of the world's wheat supply, and before the war, Ukraine was considered the world's breadbasket, exporting 4.5 million tons of agricultural products per month through its ports. But since the war began, exports have collapsed and prices have skyrocketed. They rose even higher after India banned the export of wheat. The UN says that about 20 million tons of grain from the previous crop is currently stuck in Ukraine, and if it is released, this could ease pressure on world markets.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is having significant effects on the global market for food, commodities, and energy. In just two years, the number of people suffering from acute food insecurity has doubled, from 135 million before the pandemic to 276 million today, according to the UN. More than half a million people live in conditions of hunger, which is 500% more than in 2016.