Russia’s war on Ukraine worsens global famine

ISTANBUL – Towering ships carrying Ukrainian wheat and other grains are stuck along the Bosphorus here in Istanbul awaiting inspections before heading to ports around the world.

The number of ships sailing through this narrow strait, which connects Black Sea ports to wider waters, plummeted when Russia invaded Ukraine 10 months ago and imposed a naval blockade. Under diplomatic pressure, Moscow has begun allowing some ships through but continues to restrict most shipments from Ukraine, which, along with Russia, once exported a quarter of the world’s wheat.

And in the few Ukrainian ports that are operational, Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid periodically cripple grain terminals where wheat and corn are loaded onto ships.

A lingering global food crisis became one of the most profound consequences of the Russian war, contributing to widespread starvation, poverty and premature death.

The United States and its allies are struggling to reduce the damage. US officials are organizing efforts to help Ukrainian farmers get food out of their country through rail and road networks that connect to Eastern Europe and on barges up the Danube.

But as winter sets in and Russia launches attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure, the crisis deepens. Food shortages are already exacerbated by a drought in the Horn of Africa and unusually harsh weather conditions in other parts of the world.

The United Nations World Food Program estimates that more than 345 million people suffer or risk acute food insecuritymore than double the number of 2019.

“We now face a crisis of massive food insecurity,” Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State, said last month at a summit with African leaders in Washington. “It’s the product of many things, as we all know,” he said, “including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”

Food shortages and high prices are causing intense pain across Africa, Asia and the Americas. US officials are particularly worried about Afghanistan and Yemen, which have been ravaged by war. Egypt, Lebanon and other major food-importing countries are struggling to pay debts and other expenses as costs have risen. Even in rich countries like the United States and Britainsoaring inflation due in part to the disruptions of the war left the poorest without enough to eat.

A food aid line in Kabul. A lingering global food crisis has become one of the most profound consequences of the Russian war.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Russia’s war on Ukraine worsens global famine – Reuters