WASHINGTON: The permanent US representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome on Tuesday urged all nations to work together to tackle the most severe food crisis the world has experienced since the Second World War.
During a briefing broadcast from the Italian capital and attended by Arab News, Ambassador Cindy McCain said that in response to the worst global food emergency in more than 70 years, on May 18 and 19 the US will urge the international community to take action to bolster food supplies.
At the UN headquarters in New York on May 18, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will chair a “global food security call to action” meeting of foreign ministers from more than 30 countries. The participants will discuss global food-security issues, review urgent humanitarian needs and identify steps that can be taken to enhance resilience.
Blinken will then chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the links between conflict and food security. The US holds the rotating monthly presidency of the Security Council this month.
McCain said that the US is focused on building long-term resilience in relation to food security and encourages other nations to work together to prevent food hoarding around the world, which causes food shortages and price increases.
She said the war in Ukraine has exacerbated existing food-security issues and that other countries, including Yemen and nations in Africa and Latin America, are also suffering from food shortages resulting from drought, conflict and political instability.
“The US has been pouring resources into immediate humanitarian assistance and broader strategies to bolster food security,” McCain said.
She added that American authorities recently announced an $11 billion package of long-term investment in efforts to improve food security, and stressed that the US is working with grain-producing countries to help alleviate food shortages, stabilize markets and reduce prices.
“We need to invest, long-term, in food security because the fact is everything else depends on it,” McCain said.
“You can’t have a discussion about climate change or sustainable development or war and not talk about the many millions of people around the world who don’t know where their next meal will come from. Who don’t know if their fields will ever yield enough. Who don’t know if the next conflict or the next drought will push them over the brink.”
In response to the effects the war in Ukraine is having on food supplies around the world, McCain said the US is looking into ways in which food productivity might be increased through investments in new technologies, water resources and water management.
She acknowledged that since the conflict in Eastern Europe began in February the international focus has shifted from the poor countries that were already suffering as a result of food shortages and insecurity, but promised that the US is not ignoring them.
“We have not forgotten about countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia and some other smaller countries that are really struggling right now,” McCain said. “Unfortunately, they’ve taken a back burner to the Ukraine crisis because that’s front and center right now.
“It’s so important to donate to organizations like the World Food Program because it will strengthen their ability to feed everyone, not just the squeaky wheel which is Ukraine right now.”