UN Chief Warns Global Food System at Risk of ‘Meltdown’ Over Russia-Ukraine War

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that the world must act to prevent a “hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system” that would be the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This war goes far beyond Ukraine. It is also an assault on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries,” Guterres told reporters in a press conference.

Countries have been struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic even before the war — “with record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt burdens,” the UN chief said.

“Now their breadbasket is being bombed,” Guterres added, referring to Ukraine which alone provides more than half of the World Food Program’s wheat supply.

The world’s 45 least developed countries import at least one-third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, Guterres noted, with 18 of those importing more than half of their supply.

Guterres called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law,” he maintained.

As a direct response to the crisis, the UN announced the establishment of a new UN Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) echoed a similar warning for global food security on Monday, with executive director for Ukraine Vladyslav Rashkovan noting that the war has “dramatically changed” the country’s economy.

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