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Hammer-blow: How the conflict in Ukraine will have a catastrophic impact on displaced communities in crises

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Executive summary

Global food insecurity has markedly increased over the last two-years due to conflict, economic and political instability, displacement, environmental degradation and disasters, and major disruptions to global food systems because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, levels of hunger surpassed all previous records1 with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries and territories. This represents an increase of nearly 40 million people compared to what was previously considered a record level high in 2020.
Importantly, this increase occurred even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Since then, there have been massive disruptions to global food systems and key agricultural inputs.
The conflict in Ukraine is expected to be a major compounding factor pushing vulnerable communities toward famine. As of June 2022, close to 50 million people in countries affected by conflict and displacement are spiralling toward famine.2 The conflict has exposed the significant vulnerability of global food systems to shocks and stresses. The consequences extend beyond states that depend directly on Ukrainian and Russian supply chains and markets for imports and international assistance. Further disruption to global food systems, without an adequate collective international response, will have dire consequences in parts of the world already experiencing conflict, displacement, and rising humanitarian needs.
Communities affected by conflict and displacement will likely face disproportionate risks from the consequences of worsening global food insecurity. These communities already face an array of barriers and limitations to recovery and self-reliance and often remain dependent on assistance to meet basic household needs, including adequate and diverse foods. People affected by displacement are already more likely to be faced with erosion of their support systems and networks while on the move, while also experiencing little or no access to employment and income generation, social protection, or markets.
In 2021, more than 88 per cent of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) were in countries or territories experiencing food-crisis. The six countries or territories with the highest numbers of IDPs – Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan – were also among the ten largest food crises in 2021 by numbers of people experiencing acute or worse food insecurity.3 Out of around 21 million refugees and four million asylum seekers globally in 2021, over 60 percent were hosted in countries or territories experiencing food-crisis, where a mix of conflict and insecurity, Covid-19, poverty, food insecurity and weather extremes compounded their humanitarian plight.