With Moscow intensifying its assault on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and other major cities, Kyiv is one of the cities that Moscow has been targeting. United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday unanimously condemned Russia’s incursion into its western neighbour. The vote was taken after Russian forces took over the “strategically crucial” south-central city Kherson – Kherson was the first crucial Ukrainian city to be destroyed -and airstrikes smashed Kharkiv, which is home to 1.4 million residents. The delegations from Moscow and Kyiv are scheduled to gather on Thursday for the second phase of ceasefire talks; Ukraine said Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before any agreement is reached.
A possible disruption in the global supply of wheat after the Russian invasion in Ukraine has raised fears that Yemen’s war-torn food crisis and inflation could get worse, as certain Yemenis are eager to buy the flour they need, Reuters reports.
The United Nations World Food Program warned in November that the world was confronting “catastrophic food insecurity” to millions because of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In addition, this week, WFP stated that the Ukraine conflict is likely to raise food and fuel prices, particularly grains in the country of import dependence Yemen where food prices have nearly doubled in several areas over the last year.
“Fuel costs are increasing, and food prices are rising, and fertilizer is becoming more expensive, and all this leads to a new crisis,” the program’s executive director, David Beasley, said at the time.
Supply chain disruptions caused by pandemics have already led to increased prices for food items and other necessities. The countries with low incomes have also witnessed an increase in malnutrition levels. And to make matters worse, Russia and Belarus, as the staging grounds for the invasion and close allies of Russia is, also one of the largest exporters of fertilizers as well, with Russia dominating the world market; a price that was an all-time high before during the conflict is now increased. A shortage of fertilizer threatens the global production of crops at a moment when most or all of 13 percent of the worldwide corn exports and twelve percent of the worldwide grain exports coming from Ukraine could disappear. Russia and Ukraine are responsible for around 29 percent of the world’s wheat exports, and disruption to this flow is driving up the cost of wheat globally. Inflation and conflict in Yemen have driven millions towards the brink of famine.
Russia’s recent attack on Ukraine has greatly exacerbated these issues, threatening the security of nations already struggling to sustain their people. As we look on as Ukrainian refugees arriving by car or on foot to Poland, It’s difficult not to think of World War II, when the region was destroyed through fighting; famine was a common occurrence as millions of people in Ukraine perished from starvation. It’s not quite there, but the food crisis won’t be an insular issue this time. What’s happening in Ukraine currently is spreading outwards and threatening the availability of food in countries that are less developed and have come to rely on the exports of grain and other food items coming from Ukraine and Russia.
Today, this Black Sea region is an important hub for global trade and production of agricultural products, and Ukraine is among the world’s major breadbaskets. After the disintegration from the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia were net importers of grain. After only a few days of the war, global commodity markets have been in turmoil. Shipping within the Sea of Azov was brought to an impasse in the last week. Wheat futures rose twelve percent over the Chicago Board of Trade. This is a significant increase in the already overpriced priceStaple grains makes up the majority of the food for the world’s most disadvantaged. Rising prices could place immense pressure on countries. Bangladesh, Sudan, and Pakistan in 2020 have received about 50% and more of their grains in Russia or Ukraine, Egypt and Turkey. They imported most of their wheat from these countries that are fighting. Countries in areas like the Middle East and North Africa witnessed a spike in food spice consumption in 2010 when Ukraine reduced its wheat exports and squeezed regular supplies of food to the countries in question, creating political instability across the region.
International efforts to lower fertilizer prices through reducing prices for energy and maintaining an open trade in fertilizers could assist farmers around the world to grow their crops. The costs for food have been rising due to the pandemic. Because soybean and palm oils are being used for biodiesel-based fuels throughout the European Union, corn to make ethanol is being produced in the United States. Redirecting grain from these use to feed the hungry could lower costs by reclaiming supplies lost from Ukraine and Russia. With the World Food Programme’s financial problems, it is evident that new methods are required for funding humanitarian aid.
Food security is vital to security for a country. Throughout history, we’ve witnessed wars disrupt food supplies and, perhaps more disturbingly, it is when food becomes an instrument of conflict. It is essential to ensure that food security is a priority for the countries that depend upon Ukraine and Russia. NATO and its many allies need to maintain supply stability and ensure that humanitarian efforts can protect Ukrainians. A possible disruption in global wheat supplies following the invasion by Russia of Ukraine is causing concern that Yemen’s hunger crisis, which is raging due to war, and price hikes for food may worsen, with certain Yemenis looking to purchase the flour they need, Reuters reports.
“People are now hurrying to buy, and people are on guard in anticipation of a crisis,” Wholesaler Mohammed Al-Nimri in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. “They are buying the sacks of ten or twenty.”
Importer of flour, Mahran Al-Qadi, said they had stock, but customers were in a panic buying. “Some sellers have even increased prices due to the huge demand.”
On Tuesday, the Aden government hosted a meeting about food supply and reported that there were 4 months worth of cereals and other essential food stocks.
The Houthis Deputy Industry Minister, Muhammad Al-Hashemi, told Reuters that the government had many months of wheat stocks. The bulk of the wheat was being imported from Ukraine and Russia.
Concerns about supply issues come with a growing food shortage in Yemen and a gap in funding for aid.
The WFP has, since the beginning of January, cut food rations to 8 Million of 13 million it feeds each month and has warned of further cuts.
“We are forced to steal food from those who are hungry and feed the hungry,” WFP Head, David Beasley, said.
Experts have warned that the impact on the cost of food due to this conflict may push millions more people into “food insecurity” that could undermine the stability of the social fabric in the unstable Middle East.
Experts believe that as the war persists in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, one of the major grain exporters in Middle East countries relying heavily on wheat imports are likely to experience more food shortages and price increases.
Experts have expressed their concerns that the Ukraine-Russia conflict’s food supply in many Middle East countries could be affected. These are the two leading foreign importers of wheat in the area.
Cristian-Dan Tataru, an analyst on the guest list of the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said in a recent report released which showed that, in the year 2020, more than 50 percent of the wheat exported by Ukraine were towards the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As per the Customs Service of Russia, during the initial three months of the year’s marketing, between July 2021 and the end of June 2022, Russia exports 18.2 million tonnes of its wheat. Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, and Azerbaijan were the leading exporters of Russian wheat, accounting for the proportion of their total exports of 66 percent.
Abeer Etefa, spokesperson for the World Food Program, worried that the MENA region could be more vulnerable to attack if supplies are affected.
The international community needs to be proactive in preventing the growing food crisis raging outwards from Ukraine. Countries like those from the United States, Canada, France and Australia should not restrict grain exports to ensure that the trade helps to improve the availability of food in the world. Nations that depend heavily on Ukraine or Russia for their grain must collaborate with other grain producers to diversify their supply chains. Sanctions against Russia must be carefully analyzed to ensure they don’t exacerbate food shortages in the most vulnerable countries.
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