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Ukraine: wheat shortage; Di Maio at the UN for initiatives to lower prices

ROME, MAY 16 –  With more people battling hunger and higher food prices and a UN warning on the possible catastrophic consequences of the wheat shortage due to the war in Ukraine, Italy is stepping up efforts to help nations in need. Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio will be in New York together with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken for meetings aimed at coordinating actions to avert the food crisis. “We will take a series of initiatives at the UN level to try to lower the prices of wheat and bread, which are affecting Italian families, but also the Mediterranean and North African areas”, announced Di Maio recalling that on June 8 Italy and FAO will host a Ministerial dialogue with Mediterranean Countries “to elaborate new UN policies to help lower the price of food raw materials”.

The events in New York are sponsored by the United States, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of May. In particular, the Wednesday 18 meeting on ‘Global Food Security Call to Action’ will be at the ministerial level with about 35 countries, both those most affected by hunger and food shortages and those best positioned to help. The following day, Blinken will chair a Security Council meeting focusing on the link between conflict and food security, most notably Russia’s war with Ukraine that has disrupted trade and caused food prices to skyrocket.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also taking action, seeking an agreement with Russia, Turkey and other countries: according to the “Wall Street Journal”, Guterres has asked Moscow for permission to allow some Ukrainian grain supplies to pass through the Black Sea in exchange for an easing on Russian and Belarusian exports of potash fertilizer. According to the UN, after three months of war and the blockade of exports from Russia and Ukraine, Europe’s ‘granaries’, the world indeed could be on the brink of a global food crisis. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the country was a major supplier of several basic crops to world markets, including corn, wheat, and barley. Agricultural products were the main source of revenue for Ukrainian exports and accounted for almost 10% of GDP. But war and blockades of Ukrainian port cities have disrupted the global supply chains of these food products. Almost 25 million tons of grain are currently in storage units in large port cities such as Odessa, waiting to be shipped to international markets, but at the moment they cannot leave Ukraine.

“In 2023 there will be a food shortage problem,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme. Several countries, including Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and Cameroon, relied on Ukraine and Russia for at least half of their pre-war wheat imports, according to the international NGO Human Rights Watch. If food remains blocked in Ukraine, these countries will be hit first and hardest by food shortages. (@OnuItalia)

 

OnuItalia
OnuItaliahttps://onuitalia.com
Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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