The outlook for 2022 is grim. The Secretary-General has warned against a coming “hurricane of hunger, and a meltdown of the global food system.”
COVID-19, climate change, and conflict are contributing to historic levels of food insecurity. Therefore, let me express our gratitude to Ireland for organising this very important discussion, and I thank the briefers for their presentations.
West Africa is currently hit by its worst food crisis in a decade, with 27 million people going hungry. This number could rise to shocking 38 million in June.
In the Horn of Africa region, up to 20 million people could go hungry this year as delayed rains worsen extreme drought. In Ethiopia alone, an estimated 7.2 million people are already not getting enough to eat, in a situation worsened by conflict. Somalia is facing a very real risk of famine. And in South-Sudan, up to 70 percent of the population will need food assistance in 2022.
In Afghanistan, the situation also remains precarious. Decades of conflict and the devastating effects of climate change are combined with the economic collapse after the Taliban takeover in August. All this has led to a staggering 95 per cent of Afghans not getting enough to eat.
Also in Yemen we are seeing a dire situation, where new IPC analysis confirms the deterioration of food security.
Against this grim global backdrop, the Russian war against Ukraine comes at the worst possible moment. The humanitarian situation itself in Ukraine is dire, and people are going hungry. But as one of the world’s most important bread-baskets - the Russian aggression also creates ripple effects on global food security - affecting the most vulnerable countries the hardest.
We will face an even worse food insecurity situation in 6 to 12 months if we do not support longer-term food and agriculture improvements now.
This is why we welcome and support the Secretary-General’s establishment of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, and its first report. A strong and coherent UN response is needed. The WFP and the FAO are key players, and we must make sure they receive the required funding.
We know that disruptions in food markets and increasing prices have the potential to spark unrest and conflicts. The Security Council has a clear preventive role to play, in line with resolution 2417.
The Council must speak with one voice against violations of international humanitarian law- including obstruction of humanitarian assistance and access, and the use of starvation as a method of warfare. When these crimes occur, accountability must also be ensured - including through targeted sanctions where relevant and appropriate.
We must also follow up more consistently when the Secretary-General activates the early-warning mechanism.
We see mounting hunger caused by conflict. To make this storm even worse, climate change is deepening hunger and furthering displacement. We must break the vicious cycle of conflict and hunger.