UN Secretary-General warns of ‘catastrophe’ of global food shortage

Berlin — The head of the United Nations warned, Friday, that the world is facing a “disaster” due to the growing shortage of food around the world.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to disruptions from climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” that is already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real danger of declaring multiple famines in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries meeting in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that crops across Asia, Africa and the Americas will be hit as farmers around the world struggle to deal with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“The issues of food access this year may become the global food shortage next year,” he said. “No country will be immune from the social and economic repercussions of such a disaster.”

Guterres said UN negotiators are working on an agreement that would enable Ukraine to export food, including through the Black Sea, and allow Russia to bring food and fertilizer to global markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat, and called on the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The host of the Berlin meeting, German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for the food shortage was “absolutely untenable”.

Barbuk said Russia exported the same amount of wheat in May and June of this year compared to the same months in 2021.

Guterres’ comments were echoed that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was the Russian offensive war on Ukraine that turned the tide into a tsunami,” Barbock said.

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Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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