UN chief warns of 'catastrophe' from global food shortage
The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.
“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”
Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.
“This year's food access issues could become next year's global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
Guterres said UN negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.
He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilise global food markets.
The Berlin meeting's host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow's claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia's invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable."
Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.
She echoed Guterres' comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.
“But it was Russia's war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.
“The sanctions that we've imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the international community to force the Russian army to leave the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after multiple strikes hit the compound. This statement came after Ukraine accused Russia of shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant again on Thursday, Al Jazeera reported. Ukraine's interior minister said that Kyiv is making contingency plans to face any scenario at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, including evacuating people from the area.
A gunman demanding a Beirut bank let Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, a 42-year-old food-delivery driver withdraw his trapped savings to pay his father's medical bills took up to 10 people hostage in a seven-hour standoff Thursday before surrendering in exchange for what a family lawyer said was $35,000 of his money. A 42-year-old food-delivery driver, Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, was promptly arrested and taken away by police as he walked out of the bank. Some bystanders hailed him as a hero.
Somalia's worst drought in more than 40 years has internally displaced 1 million people since the dry conditions struck in January 2021, according to the United Nations. This year alone, an estimated 755,000 people fled their homes in search of water, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement on its website.
Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand Thursday evening following his departure from Singapore. Rajapaksa was granted entry into Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government, NewsWire reported. He left Singapore on Thursday after nearly a month's stay in Singapore. Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis since its independence.
China's high-tech Chinese research vessel, which was to dock at Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port, won't reach there as scheduled, according to a media report on Thursday, citing the port authorities. Newsfirst.lk website reported that the Harbour Master for the Hambantota Port said no vessel can enter the port without his permission. It said the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship 'Yuan Wang 5' will not reach Hambantota Port on Thursday.