World hunger expected to increase after Russian invasion of Ukraine

FILE – A wheat warehouse belonging to Ivan Kilgan, head of the regional agricultural association village, in Luky village, in western Ukraine, on March 25, 2022. The northwestern Lviv region near the border with Poland, far from the heart of what is known as Ukraine’s breadbasket in the south, is being asked to plant all the available fields it can, said Kilgan. How to prevent food insecurity and skyrocketing prices globally as Russia continues its war in Ukraine will be the marquee topic of discussion at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

The war in Ukraine is expected to dramatically increase the already high rates of world hunger and food insecurity across the globe, according to a new report from the Global Network Against Food Crises and the Food Security Information Network.

According to the report released on Wednesday, about 181 million people in 41 countries are already forecasted to be in a food crisis situation this year, with acute food insecurity expected to persist or increase from 2021 levels. In Ukraine alone, up to 5 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2022.

The Global Network Against Food Crises noted that 2021 was already a record year, with close to 193 million people across 53 countries suffering from acute food insecurity, an increase of 40 million people compared to 2020, or a 25 percent spike.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major wheat exporter considered the breadbasket of Europe, has alarmed humanitarian organizations and officials, who fear the war is greatly exacerbating an existing food crisis. While concerns have been raised before, the report marks the first data crunch showing what the initial impact could be.

In a foreword included in the report, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is “facing hunger on an unprecedented scale, food prices have never been higher, and millions of lives and livelihoods are hanging in the balance.”

“The war in Ukraine is supercharging a three-dimensional crisis — food, energy and finance — with devastating impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, countries and economies,” Guterres said.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has already displaced more than 7 million people and impacted about half of the nation’s population, the UN Refugee Agency estimates.

The U.N.’s World Food Program estimates that more than 800 million people around the world go hungry every night, the main driver of which is war. About 60 percent of the world’s hungry live in areas impacted by conflict or war, including in some of the hungriest countries: Yemen, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Both Russia and Ukraine will impact the entire global food network, given both countries are major exporters of wheat, barley, maize, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. Countries with a large amount of people suffering from food insecurity are more likely to be impacted by the shortage caused by the war in Ukraine.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement on Wednesday that hunger was already soaring during the pandemic and that the war in Ukraine was “piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe.”

“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation. We urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late,” Beasley said.

Tags Antonio Guterres David Beasley food insecurity Poverty Russia Ukraine World hunger
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