The dramatic effects of Russia’s invasion are being felt by people beyond the borders of Ukraine; it is also bringing the threat of hunger to millions around the globe. The German Government is hosting a conference in Berlin to discuss what can be done.
Government officials as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society are meeting at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 24 June at the invitation of Foreign Minister Baerbock, Development Minister Schulze and Minister of Food and Agriculture Özdemir. Just prior to the G7 Summit in Elmau, this conference is placing the issue of food security at the top of the international agenda and creating a forum for joint debate with the Global South on possible solutions.
What’s behind the sharp increase in hunger around the world
Even before the Russian war against Ukraine, droughts, the effects of climate change, supply chains disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and armed conflicts were causing supply shocks to global grain markets. However, Russia’s attack on the country has now dramatically worsened the situation. Ukraine was one of the primary suppliers to many countries in the Global South, as well as to large international relief organisations. Now, destroyed infrastructure, blocked ports and lost crops are leading to supply shortages. Russia – itself a major grain exporter – has lowered its own exports.
As a result, store shelves are remaining empty, prices are shooting up, many people can no longer afford to buy essential staples, and emergency rations are dwindling. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said that 345 million people currently do not have enough to eat. This is more than four times the population of Germany.
With its targeted attacks on Ukraine’s granaries, Russia is using food as a weapon. Russian propaganda is disseminating cynical disinformation, attempting to both destabilise and divide the international community. One of the obviously untrue statements is that international sanctions, as opposed to the war, are the cause of people’s suffering. The fact is that no sanctions have been imposed on the export of food. Russia could improve the situation overnight – if it wished to do so.
What Germany is doing to fight hunger around the world
Germany has been engaged for many years in the fight against global hunger. For example, it has strengthened food systems and is the world’s second-largest donor of humanitarian food assistance. Currently, Germany has a special international responsibility, as the German Government holds the Presidency of the G7. In this capacity, it is supporting the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and has launched the Global Alliance for Food Security. This year, Germany will invest some 4 billion euro in humanitarian assistance and resilient food systems.