The United Nations World Food Program warned in a statement on Tuesday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was contributing to a sharp rise in the number of acutely food insecure people in Latin America and the Caribbean, putting more pressure on an already insecure region. food. The repercussions of Covid-19 and the effects of climate change.
Between December 2021 and March 2022, the World Food Program said that according to recent surveys by the organization, the number of acutely food insecure people “rose” by more than 500,000. Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Millions of people could be pushed into poverty and hunger if the conflict in Ukraine continues. “The region is already dealing with Covid-19, rising costs and climate extremes,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We can go back to the height of food insecurity we experienced during the height of the pandemic, where job and income losses, food inflation, and other driving factors hit the most vulnerable.”
The World Food Program said the war in Ukraine had driven up commodity and energy prices, leading to food inflation that threatens the region because many countries rely heavily on grain imports. She added that Caribbean countries that import large quantities of food will be particularly affected by the “rise” in shipping costs.
Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly 30% of world trade, and Ukraine is the fourth largest exporter of corn and the fifth largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. The World Food Program, which helps fight global food insecurity, buys about half of wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not opened.
Since the war began, Russia has prevented Ukraine from exporting goods from its ports, raising fears of a global food crisis.
“Russia has closed almost all ports and all sea opportunities, so to speak, for the export of food – grain, barley, sunflower and more,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
The United States and Ukraine have also accused Russia of stealing Ukraine’s grain supplies, which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “fake news,” according to Russian state news agencies. CNN has seen satellite images showing two Russian ships docked with what is believed to be stolen Ukrainian grain. CNN also tracked a Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain from Crimea to Syria after being removed from ports in Egypt and Lebanon.
CNN’s Alex Marquardt and Tim Lister contributed to this post.