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NEW YORK: Millions of people face the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity as a result of armed conflict, the UN Security Council said Thursday.
The UNSC meeting on the “protection of civilians in armed conflict” was requested by Brazil and Ireland to discuss the “white note” on conflict and hunger.
On May 24, 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called on the Secretary-General to report to the council “promptly when there was a risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity in the context of an armed conflict”.
This risk, according to the report, was now a reality, with “armed conflict and violence being the main drivers of these risks” in South Sudan, Yemen, northeastern Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, said seven years of armed conflict in Yemen had left some 19 million people – 60% of the population – “in dire straits. ‘acute food insecurity’.
In South Sudan, he said, 63% of the population, or 7.7 million people, are expected to be in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity this year.
“Assessments predict that 87,000 people, mostly in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor administrative area, could face a disaster,” he added.
In Ethiopia, he said, more than 13 million people need lifesaving food aid in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions.
“As of June, 87% of people surveyed in Tigray were food insecure, more than half of them severely,” Griffiths added.
He said hunger was being used as a “tactic of war”, something aid organizations tried to combat by working with local groups who were the first, sometimes the only, “responders on the ground”. But too often we face interference, hindrance, harassment and attacks on our staff, as well as the looting or misappropriation of our assets.
Griffiths added: “It prevents us from reaching people in need, and it makes their suffering worse. Humanitarians will stay and deliver, but conditions in some contexts are unacceptable.
South Sudan, he said, was “one of the most dangerous places for an aid worker last year, with 319 violent incidents targeting aid personnel and assets”.
He said five aid workers had been killed in 2021 – five more have died since the start of this year.
Griffiths called on member states to engage in peaceful and negotiated resolutions to conflicts and other situations of violence.
He said states and armed groups must be “reminded and encouraged to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law”.
He added that all parties must protect all objects essential to the survival of civilians, “and ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid”.
Griffiths called for support for an “integrated response to address the underlying drivers of acute food insecurity” and the “economies of countries facing severe, large-scale hunger.”
The report called for continued humanitarian funding, stating: “In all of these countries, we are well below half of the required funding. Without the resources we need, we cannot operate at the scale we should.
Maximo Torero, chief economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, confirmed that hunger had increased dramatically in recent years, which he said was exacerbated by several factors, including conflict, climate change and an increase in inequalities that had worsened since COVID-19. 19.
“All of these factors,” he said, “have been exacerbated by rising food prices.” Conflicts, he added, “have a direct impact” on food insecurity by reducing food production, destroying crops and restricting access to food.
“In the long term, conflict leads to complete loss of livelihoods, supply chain disruptions, mass displacement and increased pressure on resources.
Torero said the global economy was also affected by the conflicts, which drove up inflation. And he warned that by the end of this year, 205 million people would face acute food insecurity.
“When the council speaks, the world listens. Preventing conflict is the most effective way to prevent famine,” he said.
David Beasly, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, said he saw firsthand the impact unrest and conflict can have on entire communities during his visit to Central America.
“I have seen how a conflict thousands of miles away is fueling the flames of what is already a severe hunger crisis on another continent,” he said, adding that soaring grain prices , fuel and fertilizer had left people “absolutely desperate”.
Beasly said: “These people, they literally have nothing left. They can stay and starve, or they can leave and risk death, for a chance at a better future in the United States.
In Yemen, he said, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate.
Lana Nusseibeh, permanent representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN, held the Houthis fully responsible for the continued suffering of civilians in Taiz.
“On Yemen, we reiterate that the Houthis must end all violations of the current humanitarian truce and fully implement it to see a way out,” she said, adding that the blockages continuous roads to Taiz “perpetuated great hardship for the civilian population”.
Responding to the report, Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, accused Western countries of not delivering Russian grain to countries most in need, which Moscow says is due to sanctions imposed by the West.
“The idea repeated by the EU and the United States that their sanctions do not hinder the export of food and fertilizers is not in line with reality,” Nebenzya said.
“These restrictions complicate banking transactions, including systemically important banks for the Russian agricultural sector, where current accounts are simply closed.”
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s response to Russia was clear: “End the war (in Ukraine)”.
UK Ambassador James Kariuki said the millions of people at risk of starvation in South Sudan and Yemen were a matter of “deep concern” and aid workers continued to come under attack.
“In this regard,” he added, “allow me to reiterate the importance of the continued implementation of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grains Agreement, which has contributed to a 5.1% decline in world wheat prices.
He said 23,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain had been delivered to Djibouti last month, “part of which has already entered Ethiopia”.
Responding to Moscow’s claims about Western food sanctions against Russia, Kariuki said: “I’m sure informants will respond to some of the outlandish claims…There were no food and fertilizer sanctions. “
He added that more than half of the wheat exported under the deal went to Africa. He concluded by saying, “As my American colleagues have said, none of this would be necessary if Russia ended its illegal war.”

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