‘Knocking on famine’s door’: UN food chief wants action now

UNION: The head of the United Nations’ food industry on Thursday warned that the world was facing “a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm” and urged donors, especially Gulf states and billionaires, dedicate a few days of profits to solving the fertilizer supply crisis now and averting widespread food shortages next year.
“Otherwise, there would be chaos around the world,” World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said in an Associated Press interview.
Beasley says that when he took the helm of the WFP five and a half years ago, only 80 million people in the world were starving to death. “And I was thinking, ` `Well, I can stop the World Food Program business,” he said.
But climate problems have increased that number to 135 million. The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early 2020, has doubled to 276 million people without knowing where their next meal is coming from. Finally, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, sparking a war and a food, fertilizer and energy crisis that pushed the number to 345 million.
“Of which 50 million people in 45 countries are knocking on the door of hunger,” Beasley speak. “If we don’t reach these people, you will have famine, famine, instability of nations unlike anything we have seen in 2007-2008 and 2011, and you will have to mass migration”.
“We have to respond now.”
Beasley met world leaders and spoke at events this week Plenum gathered leaders to warn of the food crisis.
In his opening remarks Tuesday, General Assembly President Csaba Korosi noted that “it seems that we are living in a permanent humanitarian emergency.” Antonio Guterres warned that conflicts and humanitarian crises were spreading, and that the funding gap for UN humanitarian appeals stood at $32 billion — “the largest gap ever.” now”.
This year, Beasley said, the war has caused grain shipments from Ukraine – which produces enough food to feed 400 million people – dramatically cut shipments from Russia, a major fertilizer exporter. second in the world and a major food producer.
Beasley said donor fatigue often undermines aid, especially in countries in crisis like Haiti. Inflation is also a serious problem, raising prices and hitting the poor who are unable to cope because COVID-19 “has just devastated them economically.”
According to him, mothers are forced to decide: Do they buy cooking oil and feed their children, or buy heating oil so they don’t freeze? Because there is not enough money to buy both.
“It was a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm,” Beasley said. “And with the fertilizer crisis that we are facing right now, with the drought, we are facing a food price problem in 2022. This has created havoc all over the world. .”
“If we don’t get started quickly – and I don’t mean next year, I mean this year – you’re going to have a food problem by 2023,” he said. “And that would be hell.”
Beasley explains that the world currently produces enough food to feed more than 7.7 billion people around the world, but 50% of that food comes from farmers using fertilizers. They cannot get high yields without it. China, the world’s top fertilizer producer, has banned exports; Russia, the second country, is struggling to reach the world market.
“We have to get those fertilizers moving, and we have to move it quickly,” he said. “Asia’s rice production is in critical condition right now. The seed is in the ground. ”
In Africa33 million small farms feed more than 70% of the population, and right now “we are several billion dollars short of fertilizer needs.” He said Central and South America also face drought and India is affected by heat and drought. “It can go on,” he said.
He said that the July agreement to ship Ukrainian grain from three Black Sea ports was a start, but “we have to get the grain moving, we have to get the fertilizer out there for people, and we I need to end the war.”
Beasley said the US contributed an additional $5 billion to food security, and Germany, France and European Union is also strengthening. However, he called on Gulf states to “push further” when oil prices are too high, especially to help countries in their region such as Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
“We’re not talking about asking for a trillion dollars here,” Beasley said.
The head of the WFP said he also met a group of billionaires on Wednesday night. He said he told them they had a “moral obligation” and “need to be concerned.”
“Even if you don’t give it to me, even if you don’t give it to the World Food Program, get in the game. Get in the game of loving your neighbors and helping your neighbors,” Beasley said. “People are suffering and dying around the world. When a child dies every five seconds from hunger, shame on us.”

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