UN warns of unprecedented hunger worldwide as result of war in Ukraine

UN warns of unprecedented hunger worldwide as result of war in Ukraine
UN SG Antonio Guterres addresses reporters during a news conference to introduce the second report of the Global Crisis Response Group on the impact of the war in Ukraine on the food, fuel and finance sectors, June 8, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 09 June 2022

UN warns of unprecedented hunger worldwide as result of war in Ukraine

UN warns of unprecedented hunger worldwide as result of war in Ukraine
  • The food crisis this year is about lack of access; next year it could be about lack of food, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns
  • A new UN report warns that while the poorest nations are suffering most, no country will be spared the effects the escalating cost-of-living crisis

NEW YORK: The war in Ukraine threatens to unleash an unprecedented global wave of hunger and destitution, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday. While it is the vulnerable who are currently the worst affected, no country will be spared the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, he added.

Although he said the solution to the crisis ultimately lies in ending the war, Guterres called for two immediate courses of action. Firstly, the release of millions of tons of stockpiled Ukrainian grain to world markets, along with exports of Russian fertilizer, which are currently being withheld.

And secondly, efforts to ensure that resources are immediately available to help the poorest countries and communities cope with the crisis.

“Governments must be able to borrow the money they need to keep their economies afloat and their people thriving,” Guterres said during a press conference in New York to mark the publication of the latest report by the UN Global Crisis Response Group on the ways in which the war in Ukraine is affecting other countries.

“Today’s report makes clear that the war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe and speeding up,” he added.

“It is amplifying the consequences of the many other crises the world faces: climate, COVID-19, and the severe global inequalities in the resources available for the recovery from the pandemic.”

Food prices have skyrocketed since the conflict began and have reached near-record highs. In addition, the cost of fertilizer has more than doubled, sounding alarms all around the world.

“Without fertilizers, shortages will spread, from corn and wheat to all staple crops, including rice, with a devastating impact on billions of people in Asia and South America, too,” Guterres warned.

“This year’s food crisis is about lack of access. Next year’s could be about lack of food.”

Meanwhile, he added, record high energy prices are causing blackouts and fuel shortages worldwide, especially in Africa, as the escalating effects of “the financial squeeze” are particularly badly felt in poor nations that were already reeling from the risk of debt defaults and economic collapse as a result of COVID-19, the inequality of recovery from the pandemic, and the climate crisis.

“Now, both countries and individuals have no hope of balancing their budgets,” Guterres said. “Instead, families everywhere are being forced into impossible decisions: Whether to shut down their businesses, sell their livestock, or take their children out of school.”

In the past two years, the number of people classified as being severely food-insecure has doubled, and the World Food Program estimates the number of people affected by this will reach 47 million this year.

“In reality, there is only one way to stop this gathering storm in its tracks: The Russian invasion of Ukraine must end,” said Guterres.

“The death and destruction must stop. A political solution must be found in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.”

In the meantime, Guterres said he has asked Rebeca Grynspan, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, to coordinate on assembling a task force to provide the safe and secure export of food and crops from Ukraine via the Black Sea, and to ensure global markets have unimpeded access to the supply of Russian fertilizers.

“This deal is essential for hundreds of millions of people in developing countries, including in sub-Saharan Africa,” Guterres said.

“At this point, saying anything more in public would jeopardize the chances of success and I ask for your understanding,” he added, as he declined to take any questions.

“This is one of those moments when silent diplomacy is necessary — and the welfare of millions of people around the world could depend on it.”


Ukraine approves sanctions against Russian ally Iran: parliament

A police expert examines fragments of a missile after Russia fired a barrage of missiles for the second time in 24 hours.
A police expert examines fragments of a missile after Russia fired a barrage of missiles for the second time in 24 hours.
Updated 57 min 57 sec ago

Ukraine approves sanctions against Russian ally Iran: parliament

A police expert examines fragments of a missile after Russia fired a barrage of missiles for the second time in 24 hours.
  • Package was approved one day after Ukraine said Russia used Iranian Shahed drones in the largest UAV attack on the capital since beginning of invasion

KYIV: Kyiv’s parliament on Monday approved a sanctions package against Russia’s ally Iran, accused of sending weapons to Moscow during its more than year-long invasion of Ukraine.
The package was approved by parliament one day after Ukraine said Russia used Iranian Shahed drones in the largest UAV attack on the capital since the beginning of the invasion.
“The resolution synchronizes Ukrainian sanctions with the actions of the entire civilized world on the path to the complete isolation of Iran,” the Ukrainian parliament said on its website.
The package includes a ban on “military and dual-use goods” with Iran and the “suspension of economic and financial obligations in favor of residents of Iran.”
It still needs to be signed into law by Zelensky — a formality as the Ukrainian leader submitted the bill himself.
Zelensky had last week appealed directly to Iranians, asking: “Why do you want to be accomplices in Russian terror?“
His adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said Sunday that Kyiv was hit by dozens of Shahed drones and called Iran a “terrorist regime.”
“Tehran has become a key ally of Moscow in this war, deliberately supplying it with weapons for attacks on civilian cities,” Podolyak said on Twitter.
Tehran has struck back by saying this was an attempt by Zelensky to gain the West’s military and financial support.


Afghanistan calls for ‘diplomatic’ resolution with Iran after border skirmishes

Afghanistan calls for ‘diplomatic’ resolution with Iran after border skirmishes
Taliban security forces in Nimroz province take defensive position at the Afghanistan-Iran border on May 27, 2023. (Twitter) A
Updated 29 May 2023

Afghanistan calls for ‘diplomatic’ resolution with Iran after border skirmishes

Afghanistan calls for ‘diplomatic’ resolution with Iran after border skirmishes
  • 1 Taliban officer, 2 Iranian border guards killed after shooting broke out on Saturday
  • Latest incident came amid a dispute over water rights to the Helmand River

The Taliban government has called on Iran to resolve bilateral issues “through diplomatic channels,” an Afghan official told Arab News on Monday, as tension at their border eased following skirmishes over the weekend. 

At least one Taliban officer and two Iranian border guards were killed on Saturday after shooting broke out near a border post between Afghanistan and Iran, with officials from the two countries accusing each other of opening fire first. 

The incident came amid a dispute over water rights to the Helmand River, which flows from Afghanistan into Iran’s arid eastern regions, as the neighbors face worsening drought exacerbated by climate change. 

“We don’t want relations with our neighboring countries to deteriorate. Our request to all neighboring countries, including Iran, is to resolve these issues through diplomatic channels,” Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arab News. 

“The current situation is normal. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is never in favor of escalation.” 

Officials have yet to provide details on what provoked the incident, in which several people on both sides were also injured. 

It occurred after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the Taliban earlier this month not to violate Iran’s water rights over their shared Helmand River, as laid out in a bilateral treaty signed in 1973. 

Water rights are among other issues the two countries faced since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, including previous skirmishes at the border and reports of mistreatment against Afghan refugees in Iran, which has for decades hosted millions of them. 

In a report published on Monday, state-run IRNA news agency quoted Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying that “there is no problem at the present time” and that “everything is calm” at the Afghan-Iranian border. 

Gul Mohammed Qutrat, a police spokesman in Nimroz, said problems at the border have been addressed. 

“Currently, the situation is under control,” he told Arab News. “There is no tension at all at the border.” 


UK police to work with North African counterparts in migration crackdown

UK police to work with North African counterparts in migration crackdown
Updated 29 May 2023

UK police to work with North African counterparts in migration crackdown

UK police to work with North African counterparts in migration crackdown
  • New front in mission to ‘stop the boats’ as immigration minister begins tour of Tunisia, Algeria, Libya
  • Robert Jenrick: ‘We’re taking the fight to the people-smuggling gangs upstream’

London: UK police will work with authorities in North Africa to prevent migrants leaving for Europe this summer, The Times reported on Monday.

The move, which will see officers from the National Crime Agency operate in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, will open a new front in Britain’s objective to “stop the boats,” following a deal with France to clamp down on people-smuggling gangs.

Italy has predicted that 400,000 migrants will try to enter Europe through its sea borders this year, with gangs overseeing vessel journeys from the North African coast across the Mediterranean.

That figure is a four-fold increase from last year, with 80,000 people already having made the journey in the first three months of 2023.

The UK Home Office has warned that the surge could lead to an increase in the number of migrants traveling northward and eventually making the trip to Britain across the English Channel, again via small vessels. In 2023 so far, 7,569 migrants have crossed from France to Britain.

The new deal with North African countries will involve intelligence- and expertise-sharing, as well as crackdowns on people-smuggling gangs.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick on Monday will start a five-day tour of North Africa and Europe to oversee the launch of the scheme.

He is set to visit Tunisia, Algeria and Libya to meet counterparts and discuss law-enforcement efforts to “disrupt, degrade and deny gangs at source.”

Jenrick told The Times: “We’re taking the fight to the people-smuggling gangs upstream to help prevent dangerous and unnecessary journeys long before migrants are within reach of the UK.

“Just as we’ve deepened diplomatic and security cooperation on illegal migration with France, Italy and Albania, we are working to enhance our cooperation with other key transit and source countries for migration to tackle this shared challenge. It is right that we use all the assets of the state to disrupt, degrade and deny gangs at source.”

The new scheme comes as the British government’s Illegal Migration Bill faces scrutiny in the House of Lords.

The series of proposed laws aims to expedite the detainment and deportation of migrants who arrive illegally in the UK.

After visiting Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, Jenrick will travel to Italy to meet Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who has pledged to clamp down on illegal migration as part of her G7 agenda.

Jenrick will also meet French officials in Paris and tour the northern port city of Calais, the most popular departure point for migrant vessels traveling to Britain.


UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid

UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid
Updated 29 May 2023

UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid

UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid
  • The report by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization calls for urgent attention to save both lives and jobs. Beyond the nine countries at the highest level of concern, the ag

ROME: Two UN agencies warned Monday of rising food emergencies including starvation in Sudan due to the outbreak of war and in Haiti,Burkina Faso and Mali due to restricted movements of people and goods.
The four countries join Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen at the highest alert levels, with communities that are already facing or projected to face starvation or otherwise risk a slide “toward catastrophic conditions.”
The report by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization calls for urgent attention to save both lives and jobs. Beyond the nine countries rating the highest level of concern, the agencies said 22 countries are identified as “hotspots’’ risking acute food insecurity.
“Business-as-usual pathways are no longer an option in today’s risk landscape if we want to achieve global food security for all, ensuring that no one is left behind.” said Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General.
He called for immediate action in the agricultural sector “to pull people back from the brink of hunger, help them rebuild their lives and provide long-term solution to address the root causes of food insecurities.”
The report cited a possible spillover of the conflict in Sudan, deepening economic crises in poor nations and rising fears that the El Nino climatic phenomenon forecast for mid-2023 could provoke climate extremes in vulnerable countries.
The report warns that 1 million people are expected to flee Sudan, while an additional 2.5 million inside Sudan face acute hunger in the coming months as supply routes through Port Sudan are disrupted by safety issues.
WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain warned of “catastrophic”consequences unless there is clear action to “help people adapt to a changing climate and ultimately prevent famine.”
“Not only are more people in more places around the world going hungry, but the severity of the hunger they face is worse than ever,” McCain said.


Russia hits Ukrainian military facility and Odesa port in air strikes

Russia hits Ukrainian military facility and Odesa port in air strikes
Updated 29 May 2023

Russia hits Ukrainian military facility and Odesa port in air strikes

Russia hits Ukrainian military facility and Odesa port in air strikes
  • Kyiv comes under heavy attack for second successive night
  • Moscow says Ukraine has stepped up drone and sabotage attacks against targets inside Russia as Kyiv prepares for the counter offensive

KYIV: Russia put five aircraft out of action in an attack on a military target in western Ukraine and caused a fire at the Black Sea port of Odesa in heavy air strikes early on Monday, Ukrainian officials said.
Kyiv also came under intense attack for the second successive night, but reported no significant damage and said that most of the drones and missiles fired at the capital overnight had been shot down.
The attacks were part of a new wave of increasingly frequent and intense air strikes launched by Moscow this month as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to take back territory occupied by Russian forces.
In a rare acknowledgement of damage suffered at a military “target,” Ukraine did not name the site or sites hit in the western region of Khmelnitskiy but said work was under way to restore a runway and five aircraft were taken out of service.
A large military airfield was located in the region before the war.
“At the moment, work is continuing to contain fires in storage facilities for fuel and lubricants and munitions,” the Khmelnitskiy region governor’s office said.
Ukraine’s military said the attack on Odesa port had caused a fire and damaged infrastructure but did not specify whether the damage threatened grain exports.
Ukraine is an important global grain supplier and the port is vital for shipping agricultural products abroad. It is also one of three included in a UN-brokered deal on the safe export of grain via the Black Sea.
“A fire broke out in the port infrastructure of Odesa as a result of the hit. It was quickly extinguished. Information on the extent of the damage is being updated,” the military’s southern command said on Facebook.

UKRAINIAN COUNTERATTACK EXPECTED
Russia, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine just over 15 months ago, did not immediately comment on the attacks. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports on the scale of the attacks.
After months of attacks on energy facilities, Russia is now increasingly targeting military facilities and supplies to try to disrupt Ukraine’s preparations for its counterattack, Kyiv says.
Moscow says Ukraine has stepped up drone and sabotage attacks against targets inside Russia as Kyiv prepares for the counteroffensive.
Ukraine said it had shot down 29 of the 35 drones and 37 of 40 cruise missiles fired overnight by Russia.
The Kyiv military administration said its air defenses had shot down over 40 of the “targets” fired at it in what was Russia’s 15th air assault on the city this month.
“Another difficult night for the capital,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging channel.
The attack follows the largest drone barrage launched on Kyiv the previous night, which killed one person and injured several. In Sunday’s attack, 36 drones were downed over Kyiv.
“With these constant attacks, the enemy seeks to keep the civilian population in deep psychological tension,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration said.