Russian invasion increases food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean, says UN

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine is contributing to the sudden increase in the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations World Food Program warned in a note on Tuesday (24), adding more pressure on a region that is already suffering from the consequences of Covid-19 and the effects of climate change.

Between December 2021 and March 2022, WFP said that according to recent surveys conducted by the organization, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity had “taken off” by more than 500,000. Russia began its invasion of Ukraine exactly three months ago, on February 24th.

“Millions of people could be pushed into misery and hunger if the conflict in Ukraine continues. The region is already dealing with Covid-19, rising costs and extreme weather,” said Lola Castro, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We can go back to the spikes in food insecurity seen during the height of the pandemic, when job and income loss, food inflation and other factors are fighting the most vulnerable people.”

WFP said the war in Ukraine has led to rising energy and commodity prices, which is driving a rise in food inflation that threatens the region as many countries are dependent on cereal imports. The body added that Caribbean nations that import significant amounts of food will be particularly affected by “rising” ocean freight prices.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter and fifth-largest wheat exporter, according to the US State Department. WFP, which helps fight food insecurity around the world, buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine annually and has warned of the consequences if Ukrainian ports are not opened.

Since the war began, Russia has been blocking Ukraine from exporting goods through its ports, stoking fears of a global food crisis.

“Russia has blocked almost every port, and every, so to speak, opportunity to export food – our grain, barley, sunflowers and more,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.

The US and Ukraine also accused Russia of stealing grain supplies from Ukraine, in what Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said was “fake news”, according to Russian state news agencies. THE CNN saw two satellite images showing two Russian ships docking and being loaded with what is believed to be grain stolen from Ukraine. THE CNN also tracked a Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain from Crimea to Syria after being turned away at ports in Egypt and Lebanon.

Source: CNN Brasil

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