UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ due to global food shortage

24 June 2022, 13:44

Cop26 – Glasgow
Cop26 – Glasgow. Picture: PA

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there is a risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022.

The head of the United Nations has warned that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruption caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” 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.”

Mr Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertiliser 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.”

Mr 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 fertiliser 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, Ms Baerbock said.

She echoed Mr 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,” Ms Baerbock said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said 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 fertilisers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

R Kelly

Opening arguments made as R Kelly faces trial on sex charges

A prison window (Ben Birchall/PA)

Payout for victims of judges who took kickbacks to send children to US prisons

R Kelly

R Kelly trial is about singer’s ‘hidden side’ court told

Venice

Venice mayor outraged at surfers motoring down Grand Canal

Taiwan China

Taiwan and China hold opposing military drills as tensions rise

Georgia election investigation

Giuliani faces grand jury in Georgia 2020 election probe

Royal guard

Norway discharges 30 members of the royal guard for illegal drug use

Kashmir Missing Soldier

Missing Indian soldier’s body found on glacier after 38 years

Spain Wildfires

Ten injured while leaving stopped train near wildfire in Spain

Russia Ukraine War

Ammunition explodes at depot in Crimea

Serbia Kosovo EU

EU to host Serbia-Kosovo talks in Brussels as tension grows

Haruyuki Takahashi

Ex-member of Tokyo Olympics organising committee arrested on bribery suspicions

Thailand violence

Southern Thailand hit by wave of arson and bombings

China Drought

Chinese factories shut down after drought hits power supplies

CPAC Republicans

Sarah Palin reaches Alaskan election’s final round in comeback bid

Natasha Henstridge has paid tribute to her ex-husband

'No words... only love': Darius Danesh's ex-wife shares tribute after his shock death at 41